Dress Rehearsal

Though a few of ambitious music ministry leaders have already had their major Christmas music presentation, most are probably coming up on that final run-through known as dress rehearsal this week or next.  I never was completely sure exactly what dress rehearsal meant.  In college and seminary performances we never actually wore our tuxedos or other concert attire for the “dress rehearsal.”  On the other hand, dress rehearsal for operas and staged dramas that involved more technical aspects than music recitals were characterized by actors and actresses showing up on stage in costume. Those of you who are staging singing Christmas trees, Christmas dinner theaters, or staged Christmas pageants are probably set to conduct very involved dress rehearsals complete with lighting, sound, and possibly even some costuming.  All the work of building sets and rigging technical equipment comes to bear on these last days of preparation.  Selecting and learning music is a slow process that has to be executed over weeks and weeks of rehearsals, listening sessions (in cars and homes as well as at church).  As the time for the main presentation draws nearer, so do the butterflies.  Will we be ready?  Will we recall the right things at the right times?  Will we convey the very spirit of the music and message itself?

All of those questions funnel into one really big question, Are We Ready? Bring on the dress rehearsal.  This is the one where we go through everything with nearly all the potential distractions at work. As directors, this is the one we try our best not to jump in to fix some little thing that doesn’t go exactly as planned.  Sometimes dress rehearsals can be messy, but they are usually necessary just the same.  I wish I had a dollar for every time some well-meaning staff member or choir singer said to me, “You know when the dress rehearsal goes badly that means the performance is going to be great.” (Oh, how comforting).

What is worship if not a drama in which the Lord declares Himself present through our acts of obedience in gathering in response to His call (ekklesia), in listening and hearing His Word, in responding with thankful hearts, and through departing as those sent to reconcile the world to Him. I have heard those who say that life on earth for Christians is a rehearsal for the eternal worship yet to come.  The Webster definition of “rehearsal” is connected to the word “repeat.”  We are reviewing God’s story over and over again.  We are living in the cycles of repeated refrains of celebrations and laments.  Like our choir rehearsals, sometimes things seem messy.  In our rehearsals we need to capture some of the true spirit of worship, and not get caught focusing on the technical aspects.  Who knows when we may be participating in the final “dress rehearsal?”  Help your people to be ready!  Not just for the Christmas program, but for eternal worship of the living God!  How?  One way is to follow the admonition of the carol:

Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns;

Let men their songs employ;

While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains

Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy

Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!

–Isaac Watts

Dr. Chris Alford, former Tennessee Baptist music minister and current pastor of Epiclesis Ancient-Future Faith Community in suburban Sacramento, California, recently wrote a blog article in which he states, “We belong to a Kingdom that can’t be seen but is Real. The entertainment business has a kingdom that can be seen but is false.” (www.drchrisalford.wordpress.com)



Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Reminders, Worship thoughts

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