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English: Description: Left Apsis: Jesus enteri...

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  Fresco in the Parish Church at Zirl, Austria.  Photo credit:  Wikipedia.

Today is Palm Sunday.  Our church service went very well!

The congregational singing was inspiring, and the choir sounded enthusiastic when singing “Hosanna!”

I want to emphasize my belief that the most important elements of good hymn playing are:

  • to find a good tempo for congregational singing, and then
  • to maintain that steady tempo. 
    • the tempo may vary according to the text, but only rarely.
    • never insert a ritard just before a congregational or choir entrance.  Insert a breath instead.  Using a ritard will only slow down the tempo.

The congregation will respond with confident singing.

Additional important considerations are:

  • to sing the hymn yourself:
    • in advance of the service, and
    • during the service.

In this way, you will:

  • be breathing with the music and the text, and
  • be breathing with the congregation as one group.

We are more inspiring when:

  • we vary our playing
    • by changing stops from verse to verse
    • by responding to the text
    • by playing a descant on occasion
    • by playing some, but not all of the parts all the time
    • even by dropping out for one verse.

And the choir and congregation respond very well to all of this!

It is crucial for us to practice the hymns in advance so our musical decisions can come to fruition.  The sloppiness that comes from lack of preparation does not inspire good singing.

Ours is not a large congregation.  Nevertheless, the singing was accomplished as a group today.  The group sounded committed, confident, and expressive.  Mission accomplished!  No wimpy singing allowed.

Related post:

Creative hymn playing

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