At the New Ark we strive to make music an integral part of the worship plan for each service, choosing music that speaks to the message each Sunday. Music is used as a way to move the Sunday morning experience through the different aspects of the worship service. We believe that the voice of the choir is an important musical communicator of meaning in worship that can't quite be matched by instruments (piano, organ or other) alone. Occasional instrumentalists add to the service, both from within the congregation and from the community. We are fortunate to have our choir and congregation supported on a regular basis by a piano student from the UD Music School.
By policy and practice we consciously resist ways of using the choir as a performance in the service. Several symbolic practices we think support this philosophy: the choir usually is placed and sings at the back of the congregation rather than up front; there are no robes to set the choir singers apart from the rest of the congregation.
Typically the choir sings a rather short introduction to worship (the Introit) as a centering and preparation for worship; sings a short meditation response after the Prayers of the People and Lord's Prayer, and an Anthem during receipt of the offering.
The choir though small (18 or so is about the maximum) we're fortunate in the vocal quality and proficiency of the singers in learning and preparing music as we're quite limited in rehearsal time. We rehearse one hour prior to the service each Sunday with an occasional one-hour Sunday afternoon rehearsal to prepare ahead. There is room in every voice part for additional singers and we do what we can to encourage even short-term and intermittent commitment to the choir for those who can't be regulars.