Worship Musician Magazine October 2020 - Page 46

WORSHIP LEADERS
THE VIRTUAL CHOIR - WHAT ? WHY ? WHO ? | Grant Norsworthy
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL CHOIR ?
Just in case you ’ ve been fasting from YouTube and Facebook this year - or at least to make sure we ’ re all on the same page - a virtual choir ( sometimes called an online choir or a home choir ) is a collection of singers who do not gather physically , but who work collaboratively online from separate locations in order to sing together . Choir members record their parts alone - usually as a self-shot video with audio - and send their digital recordings to a central “ conductor ” or producer who collates , edits , synchronized and mixes all the separate vocal performances into a single choral performance .
Often the choir will be accompanied by an ensemble of instrumentalists who have also performed and recorded their parts individually and from different locations . Many virtual choir song videos integrate moments of solo singing and smaller groupings of voices with the manyvoiced choir .
Typically , the virtual choir ’ s assembled performance in shared to a global audience over the internet using platforms like YouTube and Facebook . Some are hugely popular . Others only moderately so . Many reach only a very small audience .
Virtual choirs have been around for a while - more than 10 years . But it is only recently - triggered by the necessary isolation of singers due to the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 - that virtual choirs have become something of a global phenomenon . Now the internet is flooded with virtual choir performances . It seems that many people long to sing together even if they are unable to do so in the same room , at the same time . As evidenced by the huge numbers of likes , shares , views and comments , many more people enjoy - are moved and inspired - by watching and listening to virtual choirs sing .
Why are Christians making virtual choir videos ?
Throughout the 2,000-plus-year history of the Christian faith , followers of Jesus have sung together . Historically and generally speaking , Christians recognize that congregational singing is an important , necessary expression of their faith , a potent way to invite a group of people to worship God , and a Biblical mandate .
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms , hymns , and songs from the Spirit , singing to God with gratitude in your hearts .
Colossians 3:16
But with enforced restrictions on public assemblies , our regular opportunities to sing together have taken a serious hit . Our weekly , physical gatherings - where singing together as an expression of worship should be a valued and common activity - were no longer possible . Many churches had to resort to presenting a song or two streamed live or pre-recorded by some of our more intrepid singers and instrumentalists as part of a “ virtual church service experience ”.
But were our congregants - clustered as family groups , couples or individuals , gazing at their phones , tablets or laptops in their homes ( possibly wearing sweatpants or pajamas ) - really singing along ? Probably not . Did they miss singing together with their Church family ? I hope so .
As I write , unrestricted gatherings for many Church congregations are still not possible , or communities have moved back into a second round of lockdown . Perhaps your congregation is currently gatherings outdoors with sizerestrictions and social distancing or not gathering at all . As evidenced by the enormous upsurge in virtual choir song video projects springing from the Christian Church , it ’ s obvious that Covid-19 - and the subsequent limitations on gatherings - has sparked our greater interest in the virtual choir .
Personally , I have been deeply encouraged to see the Christian Church find new ways to sing with each other - to worship God with our en masse voices - during these times when we are unable or restricted from doing so in the “ normal ” way . Maybe this is some evidence that we have not forgotten the value and importance of the collective voice of The Church ?
In particular , the huge number of virtual choir videos built around the Elevation song “ The Blessing ” - produced by Christian virtual choirs from all around the world during 2020 - is simply astounding and enormously uplifting . The sheer number of choir members across all the videos ( to say nothing of the countless , behind-the-scenes technicians involved ) is staggering . What an amazing picture of unity through diversity within the Christian Church ! A clear display of our shared desire to sing of God ’ s blessing and , by so doing , be a blessing to the whole world during these difficult times .
During the years leading up to 2020 , I believe I have observed a growing and concerning confusion in the Christian Church about the role of music , songs and singing in our regular Church gatherings . While I celebrate and see the value of the solo performer ’ s voice in many situations , I see evidence that we may be losing sight of the value of all of us regular “ Jack and Jill congregants ” singing together . Many have seemed comfortable to substitute the practice of congregational singing for the experience of having someone else on a platform with a microphone sing on our behalf .
My hope is that one of the unexpected positive outcomes of Covid-19 is that we - the Christian
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