The teaching of singing and music
One may begin thinking about music and the teaching of singing, as every other area of study in an elementary curriculum. Music is part of the created world, redeemed by God’s Son in His sacrificial death, and part of our commitment to teach the humanities. However, music is unlike other subject areas, in that music, particularly the art of singing, is central to the Church’s worship life. The main emphasis of the Academy music program is the training of children to sing the Church’s song and assist and lead in worship.
Seeing music as part of the redeemed creation, the Christian returns to God what God has given to him. The gift of God is Christ, in Word and sacrament. What the Church has received from God is the forgiveness of sins. Music, in the Church’s liturgy and hymnody, is a primary vehicle for carrying the Word of God and giving voice to the Church’s prayer. The forgiveness of sins is preached, received, and confessed in the texts and verses of music.
For the Divine Service
Music is integral to the liturgy of the Divine Service. In the Church’s worship, music is the gift of God that has been put in the service of the Gospel more than any other gift. The psalms of the Old Testament were all sung. The “spiritual songs” and “canticles” of the Old and New Testament were a part of the earliest liturgies. Jesus Himself sang in the Upper Room on the night in which He was betrayed. As a community of forgiven sinners, the Church extends greater than one’s self or one’s personal moment in history. It extends backward and forward in space and time from the cross of Christ to us. The music of the liturgy reflects this Truth. Though music and singing may be very personal as a learned skill, developed aptitude, and avenue for self- expression, the primary reason music is taught in the Academy is for the sake of the Church and the ministry of the Gospel. The individual receives the Word and becomes part of the larger body of Christ in confessing and singing that faith.
In Service of the Gospel
Because the Church extends backward and forward in time, so does her music. Some of the Church’s song is from a previous era and advances through the community of faith because we are part of a larger body. The early Church incorporated music from the synagogue. Jewish Christians brought in the hymns of Greek and Roman converts. Hymns “in the language of the people” were written, at the time, in Latin. Subsequently, the Protestant Reformation in Germany put the Church’s song into the German tongue, in service of the Gospel. Similarly, others who followed Christ and preceded us put the Church’s song into English. We are a singing Church. We are a singing people, in service to one another, because individually, corporately, and inter-generationally, God’s gift to us is Himself. The music program for the Academy and the congregation is seen as one, integrated for the congregation’s worship life.
The Church’s Song
The Academy also offers many opportunities to explore the vast musical treasures from outside the Church; however, clear distinctions are made between music which is appropriate for the Church’s public worship and music which is not appropriate. Whether music is “secular” or “sacred,” we do not abandon basic ideas of “good” and “beauty” that reflect Christ and speak back to Him of His gifts to us. For the Christian, Jesus is the Church’s Song and the more beautiful music.