Page 4 - Church Music Quarterly June 2019
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The RSCM and its volunteers stage hundreds of events across the UK each year. This quarter, In Action takes a look at one of the Revd Helen Bent’s Strengthen for Service workshops. For other workshops taking place in your Area, see the What’s On pages in this issue of CMQ, or visit the RSCM’s website:
 Music matters! It plays an integral part in worship to bring glory to God and to uplift the congregation. We all have a view on
the use of music in worship whether we describe ourselves as musicians or not, whether we are worship leaders or members of the congregation.
Over the past five years, Strengthen for Service residentials have become a well-established and valuable part of the RSCM ministerial education programme. The course is aimed at all those, lay or ordained, who are involved in preparing and facilitating regular worship. No prior musical expertise or training is required. This course is carefully designed to instruct, encourage and build confidence, whatever our starting point.
I am a lay leader in my parish and I have learnt a lot about the range of resources available to me
Having recently moved from a suburban parish in South Yorkshire to a multi-benefice in rural Northamptonshire, I have realized afresh the diversity of traditions and worship experiences represented by the congregations within my four new churches. This is what makes Strengthen for Service particularly helpful to those in times of transition from college to curacy, curacy to incumbency, church to church.
Occurring three times a year in different parts of the country, Strengthen for Service has been described as ‘a retreat with input’. The courses are deliberately small and intimate, adopting a conversational approach which encourages participants to explore
together openly in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.
We have a remarkably rich worship history from Judaism and the Christian church, which has been served by both professional and amateur singers and musicians across the centuries. As we trace the roots of our worship back to biblical times, we see many resonances with the ways in which we worship today. All course participants are given a timeline that provides an overview of our musical heritage in the form of a smart wall chart. Participants hear musical examples as they trace different worship strands: liturgical settings, psalms, hymns, choral and instrumental music.
The course is full of practical help and useful
tips to take away. Case studies are used to bring
a more objective view and to open up discussion
in a pastorally sensitive way. The scenarios cover common issues taken from real churches. One-to- one surgery time is also offered to every participant on a subject of their choice. Regarding publications, participants come away better informed and equipped to tackle practical challenges, such as:
„Addressing the tensions between traditional and contemporary repertoire
„Choosing the best new hymnbook to suit their need „Enabling congregational singing when resources
are limited
„ Introducing new material to an elderly congregation.
The course is punctuated by services showcasing different liturgical and musical styles from plainsong to contemporary worship songs. Wherever possible we will worship in a local church or cathedral for at

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