Why Voice?

Every weekend Christians gather to practice the time honoured ritual of Church. The corporate gathering of Christians has been adhered to since New Testament times, with one commentator predicting that by the close of 2010 nearly 1.9 billion people would be practicing Christianity globally (Brierley, 1997, p. 13). In Australia, 8.8% of the population (NCLS, 2004) regularly attend church to join other Christians for instruction in the faith, observe the rite of the Eucharist and participate in congregational singing.

Singing in the Christian church has enjoyed relatively uninterrupted use across the historical evolution of the cultus. The majority of the Christian population gives voice to tunes designed to carry theology and emotionally expressive worship. In the modern Australian Protestant context the voice of the congregant is often led by a song leader or group of singers. These leaders of song are known as Contemporary Worship Singers and are often lay personnel chosen from within the local church community, who willingly give their vocal talents to support the communal activity of congregational singing.

Singing within the church service has taken on new found prominence. The heightened status of the volunteer singer has been magnified by recent developments and variations of the worship service along with the modern church’s use of technological advancements such as sound amplification and projected video display. The past forty years have also seen a sharp increase in recorded worship material being made available to Christian worship participants. This has drawn focus to the persons used to perform the soundtracks. The result of this focus on individual singers has brought a form of celebrity into the cultus; a development that invites considerable debate.

As the role of the Contemporary Worship Singer receives increased interest the expectation placed upon these volunteer vocalists, intentionally and otherwise, is raised. The desire for refined performance is held by three interested parties: the clergy (including pastors/ministers and church music directors), the congregant and the modern church singer.

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