Developing a core repertoire…
Most, if not all, musicians develop and maintain a core repertoire. This is a selection of well-practised and well-developed music that is both familiar and uplifting. I believe that this practice translates very readily to congregational song and, indeed, that it’s fully appropriate. It all comes down to why we sing.
‘Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts.’ (Psalm 147:3-4)
We can see from the words of this wonderful Psalm that we sing in praise of our matchless God. We also declare His greatness and pass on our knowledge of Him to future generations through our shared repertoire.
I’m a great believer in selecting a thoughtful and studied repertoire that underlines Scripture and reinforces our understanding of theology. In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul exhorted the congregation to ‘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)
So we can see that our praise is to bring glory to God, to teach us wisdom, to build up one another and to express our gratitude. In effect, our core repertoire should help to nurture our faith and our Church community.
The purpose of a well-chosen hymnody is to underscore our theology and help us understand it so we can sing thoughtfully, worshipfully and with understanding. ‘I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.’ (1 Corinthians 14:15b)
Is there a difference between core repertoire for corporate worship and private worship? Yes, I think so but there’s plenty of room for significant overlap. My own personal repertoire tends to be more meditative but it’s good to sing music at home that we expect to sing in church.