This was a question asked of the choir I 'coordinate' this week. People gave different answers, and the more I think on the question the more I think it needs further discussion.
What is a choir?
A choir is a group of people who sing together. This sounds simple, but I don't think it is. A choir is more than one person - it is people.
A choir sings - not just sings, but sings well. The members of a choir must be able to sing. I would say that they must also be musical - not necessarily trained, but have a musical instinct/ear. What does that mean? They need to be able to listen and hear music and appreaciate differences - a change of key, different notes, different beats. Whether or not the differences can be named is irrelevant (that can be learned), it is recognising them that is essential.
A choir sings together. That means working as a team. It doesn't mean singing the exact same thing - everyone has a (different) role/tune to play. A choir cannot function without each individual valuing the others for the contribution they make, respecting everyone's voice and ability and accepting that they are not the star.
What is a Catholic parish choir?
All of the above, and of the parish. That means that most of the members of the choir should be members of the parish too i.e. Catholics.
What is the role of the parish choir?
The role of the Parish Choir is to lead the congregation in singing.
What is the point of singing in Church?
To worship and praise and thank and petition and pray, in general, talk to God.
Singing in a Church choir has two foci - God and music (the combination of the focus of being in Church and being in a choir). Singing and music are the ministy. Thomas Merton says that if you are called to be a Catholic poet, you must first of all be a good poet. So, if we are called to be a Catholic choir, we must first of all be a good choir - we must sing together as a group.
And, since we are called to lead the congregation during worship/praise/petition/thanksgiving/prayer - conversation with God, I think this means that we must also be good at talking to God too. Both as individuals and as a group.
In our discussion, choir members talked about singing, leading the singing etc. No one, other than me, mentioned God. In fact, I was almost disagreed with. This bothers me.
For the choir to become a good choir and good at leading other people in worship, we are good at singing and good at praying - as individuals and together as a group.
And if I am leading or coordinating the choir, I have to encourage this?