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Choirs are Alive and Well

Over the last 10 or more years, we have seen a decline in churches using choirs in worship. Headlines, such as this one: “Many Church Choirs are Dying. Here’s Why,” appeared to confirm the trend.
I think there are many reasons for that trend, but the good news is I think the trend is reversing. According to data from the ARDA (Association of Religion Data Archives), the number of churches reporting having choirs has increased from 42% in 2006 to 58% in 2018. Now (at least in the over 600 churches polled), the majority of those polled say that their churches are using choirs.

I think that there are many reasons to have choirs in worship. Let me list just a few with only brief comments.

1. I think it is biblical.
In 1 Chronicles 15:27, there were singers who were in the procession of the ark. In 2 Chronicles 5:12-14 there were groups of singers at the dedication of the temple. Nehemiah appointed two great choirs to give thanks (Nehemiah 12:31). Singing is clearly biblical, and doing it in groups seems to be a natural result.

2. It provides visual and audible support for congregational singing.
Worship is caught as well as taught, and having a group of worshipers on stage can help prompt congregational response. Many videos of contemporary artists such as Phil Wickham and Maverick City Music are featuring groups of singers to provide visual and musical interest.

3. It provides a group of likeminded people, which can serve as a great catalyst for a sense of family and belonging.
Everyone needs a place to belong and feel connected, and choir can be a great way to do this.

4. Choir can be a great outlet for musical expression.
I sometimes joke about being in choir as music therapy, but there is a sense in which making music is therapeutic. There are studies showing that it can be physically and calming beneficial, and that the heartrates of the choir actually synchronize with each other.

5. Choir can be a place to help with music education.
Learning to read music, sing well, blend with others, tune, etc. are all part of being in choir.

Lastly, our worship program was asked to help with the production of the Dove Awards this year. I was thrilled to see how many acts included choirs:

We the Kingdom
CeCe Winans
Lauren Daigle
KB and Matt Redman
Natalie Grant
Maverick City Music

Yes, I believe choirs are alive and well.

2 comments to Choirs are Alive and Well

  • Mat Taylor

    I really like your support for why a choir would be a beneficial thing in a church. Where I grew up, there was never a choir in church, but being where I am now, with the opportunity to be in a choir with a group of like-minded believers, I can not only see the benefits in your reasoning, but also in first-hand experience. I especially liked the reasons that referred to all the ways that a choir can encourage congregational participation. Having a visual representation of people who are doing nothing except what the congregation is doing has the potential to urge them to be more participatory in worship.

  • Paige Senseman

    I agree, I think choirs are becoming popular again. Primarily, I think churches want to revive their choir because “all the cool kids are doing it”. Elevation, Maverick City, and other independent artists are incorporating choirs more into their music and church services. The reasons you’ve given for choirs act more like benefits in this scenario. But I applaud churches who use choirs for these reasons. My church has begun recruiting people for a choir, and they have never had one in the church’s history. I’m excited to be a part of leading and directing the choir, and expectant that the Lord will use this team to encourage our church!

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