Several colleagues have brought your recent article on church choir singing (“Bible Belting,” 9/30) to my attention.
My normal practice would be to ignore something that is clearly written to create a juicy story, rather than to be a serious look at an important activity within the musical life of this city. Indeed, I only respond because my own church has been named in the article.
I would simply say that the generally cynical tone is in no way representative of attitudes in my choir. Indeed, the members were saddened and angered by the content, because they would not wish to be associated with some of the things that were said. The general tone of being in it for the money gives a totally false concept of what motivates the singers in this choir, and I am sure that you will receive similar comments from many others who feel demeaned by this article.
I do not regard it as appropriate for me to question the personal spiritual attitudes of my singers, but I constantly make it clear that I regard the choir as an essential part of this worshipping community, and that is our primary function. Our aim of offering music at the highest possible standards is not an end in itself; it is a means for worshippers to have an uplifting experience through the very powerful medium of music. We try always to remember that the music, like everything else in a worship service, is an offering and not an entertainment.
Countless worshippers, during the course of my career as a cathedral organist in Great Britain, and in my years here at St. Paul’s, have expressed their appreciation for this special ministry. That is the highest reward one can hope for.
Director of Music
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish