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Hallo again to all.

All Saints Ashmont On a usual Sunday in our home parish, we can be found in cassock and surplice in the choir stalls. Being a chorister is a weekly lesson in liturgical function. The choir is both an active participant in and congregational support for the worship service. We watch for cues, we lead the singing of hymns and the psalm, and we make spoken responses with confidence that rubs off on the congregants in the pews. Oh yes, we also sing our offering of thanksgiving at offertory and maybe a motet to set the mood at communion. If one is lucky enough to have a strong choir and a willing clergy, one may have the treat of singing choral settings of the mass – yet another gift to the glory of God offered with the choir's active participation.

The first person singular individual who enters a choir rehearsal room becomes part of a unified entity of first person plural once vested and in the stalls or loft. Our robes are our uniform, but beneath them, our individuality still abounds. Choristers know their clothing won't be seen, so there can be an increasing tendency for long-term choir members to dress for comfort under robes rather than Sunday best. In winter we have been known to don a pair of tracksuit bottoms under our cassock to combat the drafts and the chill in the stalls. In summery heat and humidity, many choristers adopt a minimal attire policy under their robe: shorts and a tee-shirt rather than the summer dress, or button-down shirt, tie, and good trousers one might expect. One friend remembers with delight summers in children's choir nigh on sixty years ago: the choristers wore bathing costumes under their robes and after service walked with their director to the beach down the street for a swim. What an enlightened choir director!

But this extreme comfort does have a price. When visiting another church or even when sitting in the pews in one's own parish, one feels a bit exposed – no cassock, no surplice, no being part of the choir collective. We have heard that in some churches, members of the congregation think of the choir as a club or clique. We are here to dispel that myth. A choir is definitely a very visible and audible ministry, however a choir is definitely not a closed social group – in our experience choristers are always actively recruiting new voices to swell the chorus. As a matter of fact, we would like to assure you that each of us in a choir value being part of the body of Christ as represented by our parish; singing is simply the worship ministry we have chosen to follow.

St Peter's Caversham Why have we been nattering on about attire and choir? We were travelling recently, and attended Sunday services away from home and our comfortable cassock and surplice. And we wanted to share with you our great appreciation for the ushers that greet each person as they enter the church. One thinks 'usher' and 'offertory collection' in the same breath. One thinks of pew sheets and hymn boards, of facilitating an orderly congregational procession to receive communion. The organizational skills of ushers are counted on to make a service run smoothly, yet so often their role in worship is taken for granted.

But one role of which we were particularly aware as a first-time visitor, is that of the greeter. Ushers serve as the 'first foot forward' moment for anyone coming to a service. A friendly greeting makes a huge difference to visitors and regular attendees.

Many thanks to those who met us at the doorway with a warm smile and words of welcome to accompany our pew sheet. The simple act of being open and friendly reminded us we were part of the body of Christ in this church for this service – no need to think of ourselves as an outsider. And that is the point, isn't it? We are One Body no matter which building we are in or the capacity in which we serve at a worship service.

We didn't miss our cassock at all!

See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

22 June 2014

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