The challenge of pride
Date: December 8, 2012
Our church is a small Presbyterian congregation in the Pacific Northwest. We number approximately 80 on a Sunday in worship. Our demographics are 75% 50+, 25% families with young children. Our worship style is generally traditional.
Our choir has been dwindling over the past 5 years (and I'm sure before then...I've only worked there 5 years) as our members have been...well...dying. For a variety of reasons younger members are not taking their places, and we have about 10 regular members. The choir director (not me) is a well-meaning guy, but with little training. He chooses the pieces he remembers singing, mostly Joseph M. Martin and Lloyd Larson, with a healthy serving of Hal Hopson thrown in. As our choir ages, the agility of the singers' voices is less and less, and the ranges are certainly narrower. Our "sopranos" top out at top-space e. We have 2 "basses" - one who can sing and one who can't. Etc, etc, etc.
For the past 5 years, first as choir director and now as worship coordinator, I have been trying to encourage the choir that they still have an important roll in worship, but that the repertoire they have been singing is not appropriate to their current make-up. They refuse. They refuse to sing fewer than 4 parts. Even a hymn, it must be in 4 parts. A unison verse, well, that just isn't the mission of the choir, is it? Any congregant can sing the melody! (They sound good when they sing unison, for the record.)
Our situation is not unique. For those of you who have channeled your choir through this kind of transition, how do you combat the challenge of pride? I'm glad our choir is proud to be the choir, but things have to change.
Any thoughts or advice is welcome.