Making music to the Lord
Having to meet by video-conference has meant changes to our services. The order of service has been adapted by presidents as they try to make things simpler and concentrate on the things that are important. To keep changes of
speaker to a minimum, the number of hymns, prayers and readings has tended to be reduced.
But an even bigger change is the fact we are not able to sing hymns together as we used to. Zoom doesn’t cope very well with more than one person making a
sound at the same time – it expects there to be one speaker at a time. If people tried to sing together, they would not be synchronised, because of the differing time delay on each connection. Also, Zoom has been specially designed to handle speech, not music.
As a result, presidents often read the words of the hymns, but there is no music. I expect that some people miss the music more than others. But it seems to me
that music is an important part of our services. Music expresses things that words cannot express and, if done properly, enhances the words. Paul tells us: “Speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19 NCV).
So what can be done? We are still at the stage of experimentation at the moment, as we try to find ways of introducing music to our services again.
1. It is possible to have one or more musicians playing/singing providing they are all at one location. There is a Zoom setting “Enable Original Sound” which
can be used to turn off the speech enhancement software and allow the music to come through better.
2. It is possible to play pre-recorded music (audio or video files) on your computer. Audio files are available for all the hymns in the hymn book (sung by the Northern Christadelphian Choir) at https://www.isolation league.org/hymns. Many of the Praise the Lord songs have been recorded on CD, and can be loaded
on to your computer. There are also various other Christadelphian websites where you can find music from PTL 2016 or the Purple Worship Book. In addition, YouTube has a large selection of religious music: for example, to end our Easter Service we had a video of “In Christ alone” which was from the BBC Songs of Praise programme. It had the bonus of the words being displayed on
the screen. Of course, with non-Christadelphian videos, you should check that the words are suitable. There are programmes available to download videos from YouTube either as audio or video files (I use one called 4K Video Downloader). To play an audio or video file in Zoom, use Share Screen and tick the box in the bottom left which says “Share computer sound”.
3. Some ecclesias have been using social music creation platforms (e.g. Bandlab) which allow people to record individual music tracks in their homes, which are combined into one piece. For example, the pianist logs on and records a track. Then an instrumentalist or singer logs on and listens to the piano track on headphones while recording their part. So the piece is built up. It could also have a video element to it. Here is an example created by Winton: https://youtu.be/V7Ji8L7zzsY. Is anyone up for trying this?