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Concerning the statements that were made by one of our members in a recent article in your paper (“Bible Belting,” 9/30), the men of the National Cathedral Choir would like to articulate our position. While the statements made in the article may reflect the personal feelings of Chris Dudley, it would be quite incorrect to assume he has spoken for the rest of the choir.
While it is true that the men of the Cathedral Choir are paid professionals, what Dudley failed to mention, and perhaps to understand, is that the Cathedral choirs are called upon not only to sing, but to lead the congregation in worship. To us, this means that we do far more than merely sing liturgical music; we endeavor to be a part of the liturgy itself—to be part of the “beauty of holiness” that elevates the soul, brings people to find faith in God, and elicits the outpouring of thankfulness that is spiritual worship.
Like the congregation at the Cathedral on any given Sunday, the men of the choir come from a variety of faith backgrounds, and we are all in different places in our own spiritual journeys. However, when we participate in Cathedral worship services, our responsibility is to lead the congregation through example. This goes well beyond merely saying responses, minding the “idiosyncratic choreographies” that make up a church service, being attentive to the readings and the sermons, and any other activities that a member of the congregation would do. We also strive to open ourselves to the richness of the liturgy around us, to draw inspiration from it and from the music we’re given to sing, and then to share this inspiration through our art with the congregation, the clergy, each other, and God.
We believe it is a privilege to inspire and encourage so many people through our art. It is something we love to do, work very hard at, and at the same time consider a very serious responsibility. It is most unfortunate that Dudley chose to speak so cavalierly regarding his own feelings about this position. In doing so, he has denigrated what is, to us, a vitally important role in church worship—that of the musician. It is a vocation that each of us feels called to, and which we undertake because we believe deeply in its ability to make the world a better, more beautiful place. We are paid for this work because we are skilled, trained, hardworking professionals. To reduce this calling to something merely transactional or mercenary impugns not only musicians, but also physicians, nurses, journalists, ministers, and indeed anyone who receives money for doing honest work in a profession he or she loves and believe in.
National Cathedral Choir