Worship Musician Magazine June 2023 | Page 38

Pub Choir does an incredible job of getting crowds of people singing together . Pub Choirs sing better than most church congregations I ’ ve heard . And I ’ ve heard plenty .
We who lead congregational singing as an expression of worship could learn a thing or two from Pub Choir . In this article , let ’ s allow Pub Choir to influence how we select the songs that we invite our congregations to sing .
If you ’ re unfamiliar with what Pub Choir is all about , check out their website and YouTube channel .
I have no doubt that Astrid Jorgensen - the conductor , arranger , and mastermind behind Pub Choir - puts a lot of thought into song selection . If the crowd is going to sing the song well , not only will they need to know it well , it ’ ll also be important that they have some deeper sense of connection with the song .
My recent Pub Choir articles have each shared a couple of the Pub Choir performances . I ’ ve shared videos of crowds of strangers passionately , enthusiastically singing : “ I Want It That Way ” by Backstreet Boys , “ Yellow ” by Coldplay , “ How Deep Is You Love ” by Bee Gees , “ Running Up That Hill ” by Kate Bush , “ The Winner Takes It All ” by Abba and “ I Want to Break Free ” by Queen .
While these may not be your personal favorites , each of these songs was hugely popular in their day and is lovingly remembered by many . The people who attend Pub Choir events will have a strong connection with - even what we might call a deep love for - these songs . They have powerful associations , enjoyment , memories . They relate on a deeper level . Individually and collectively , the peoples ’ deep resonance with the song is displayed on their faces and through their voices .
To see and hear what I mean , check out this recent addition to the Pub Choir playlist as 2,000 Melburnians ( that ’ s what we call people from Melbourne , Australia ) sing the Alanis Morissette 1996 hit “ You Learn ”.
And another from a few years back as a smaller-yet-passionate bunch of New Yorkers sing Cyndi Lauper ’ s 1984 hit “ Time After Time ”.
As Pub Choir clearly demonstrates , people are more willing to sing if they know the song . If they love the song . If they have for many years . Wouldn ’ t you like your congregation to sing like that ?
WHY AREN ’ T THEY SINGING ? I believe that one of the main reasons why many church congregations struggle to sing is because they just don ’ t know many of the songs well enough . They are being asked to sing too many new songs . That level of deeper , long-standing connection just isn ’ t there . They don ’ t truly resonate .
Now , don ’ t get me wrong : I do believe that we should be introducing fresh , new songs for sung worship . Especially if we lead a younger congregation . Absolutely ! But not too many and not often . We must lovingly and carefully balance novelty and nostalgia for the context in which we find ourselves . Each of us needs to think deeply about the people we lead and choose songs that will resonate with them - that they will want to sing .
We live in ultra-consumeristic societies . It has become the norm to quickly use things up , dispose of them and then move on to the next more attractive thing . This can influence the
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