You see some funny stuff in church. That’s what happens when a group of people most of whom aren’t musically inclined gather together to make a joyful noise (or just a noise) to God in “musical” fashion. Some people aren’t comfortable but feel an obligation sing. Some people are really comfortable – maybe too much so. Some people scoff. Others join in with sincerity (hopefully most land here).
I’ve been around churches my whole life and have observed five main types of singers in church (other than the normal, healthy kind). Here they are.
This is inevitably a young woman standing one row behind you. She used to sing in the high school choir. She also auditioned for every musical her high school did but always ended up in the chorus despite her obvious vocal talent. Oddly, though, she wouldn’t know a melody if it introduced itself during the meet ‘n greet part of service. Instead all she can sing are the “harmonies” that exist only in her own head. And now also in my ears. Hon, the songwriter left those out for a reason.
You immediately picture the disaffected guy in a zip up hoodie and skinny jeans, right? Look a little more closely and you’ll see the lady who doesn’t want her makeup to crack and the gentleman with a dress shirt that cost more than my car. This is not to be mistaken for the person who is new and isn;t yet accustomed to singing or the person who just needs a day to let the music wash over them (though they often look the same). No these people can’t possibly sing. They have a reputation to uphold. Cool. How cool? Ice cold!
Did you know that Amazing Grace and Before the Throne can both be turned into a military cadence? Why, yes they can! Just stand near a veteran of our armed forces and you will find out how. The awesome thing about these gentleman (and the occasional lady) is the vim and vigor with which they belt out their . . . not songs, not tunes, not melodies . . . marches. You will find your own signing completely thrown off. But after service you’ll be looking for cargo netting to climb and TNT wire to crawl under.
Most churches these days have big screens where they project the lyrics to the songs. If they don’t have those they use these awesome retro things called hymnals, also chock full of lyrics. Yet somehow, some way, every church has a handful of enthusiastic singers who can never get the lyrics right. They’re on the bridge while we’re on the chorus. They start verse three while we’re launching into verse two. As an added bonus, they’re usually the ones who belt out the first two syllables of a verse during the musical interlude too. Pro Tip: The lyrics are on the screen and the worship leader usually, you know, leads us into the next verse.
Did you know that every song at every church in the history of every country everywhere could have been done better? Just ask the critiquer. The audio mix was bad. The drummer was off a half beat. The backup vocalist was flat. The guitar players v-neck was too deep (man-cleavage alert!). And of course such brilliant insights and constructive criticisms can;t wait until after the service! No, they must be whispered to the friends and/or family standing next to the critique. Of course if they’re a pro, a truly awesome critique, they don’t whisper. Instead they slowly shake their heads with a bemused half smile to let any who are watching them (because that’s what we’re supposed to do during worship) know of their expert observations on the suckitude of the worship leaders.