“And so through all the length of days, thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise, within thy house forever.”
—From Irish Hymn, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”
Sacred music has often played a significant role in the healing of humanity. Here at Kenilworth Union, we are incredibly blessed. Glorious music and sermons have been our congregation’s constant companion. Yet have we ever known a time such as this? When the evening news fills us with fear of contagion, it is a struggle to hold onto the comforting continuity of daily life. The media has been producing many reports about houses of worship, and people’s desperate desire to connect with God. Society turns to religion during troubling times. Our church staff has been making decisions on how best to strengthen faith, and provide music ministry, all while staying safe.
You will be seeing a variety of methods of interweaving music into our worship. We have pulled hymns, solos, and choir anthems from previous services. The Maundy Thursday Worship offered a virtual duet with Alyssa Bennett and Miya Higashiyama. Easter Worship was the debut of our virtual section leader choir. These fresh remote recordings and videos are done at our individual homes, then later edited together through the magic of software and creativity. This process takes many hours. I am making piano recordings from my living room. Our section leaders are turning their reverberant bathrooms into recording studios. Outstanding organist Susan Klotzbach has been prerecording preludes and postludes in the sanctuary. Miya is editing remotely from Seattle. Audio and video engineer Joel Fox has been miraculously compiling these components into a completed worship service. Joel is our Church’s new superhero.
When will our choristers from Age 5 to 80 something come back together for God’s music and fellowship? Do we have to wait for a vaccine? Sweet Jesus, I hope not. Unfortunately, choirs are droplet factories. The better the diction, the more droplets that hang in the air, for up to three hours. In mid March, a church in Washington State held a choir rehearsal that resulted in 45 adult singers contracting Covid-19. Two members of that ensemble passed away from the virus. I had no notion that singing could be so risky. Therefore, we beg your patience as we climb the steep learning curve of remote music production. Communicating God’s love and grace to the congregation is our job. It’s what we do.
There are no words to express how much we miss each other at Kenilworth Union Church. Zooming is helping us to stay connected. It’s just not the same. Never again will I take our fellowship and love of Jesus Christ for granted. Yet until we can all congregate safely; we must stay home. Jesus is telling us to continue to serve God with gladness. Jesus is telling us to stay home. As we pray for our world, please pray that we find ways to comfort you, and inspire hope. In the “quarantine time” know that you are loved and missed.