For the next several days, I'll be taking a break from blogging for continuing education at the Mississippi Conference on Church Music and Liturgy. The Conference brings in nationally-acclaimed faculty, as well as choristers and organists/choirmasters from all over the country. It's a really first-class offering.
This will be my third time to attend the entire conference. Although I'm not a trained musician, I've found the experience of rehearsing and singing in a choir a very rewarding one. Participating in this Conference has given me my first opportunities to sing Evensong in a choir, and to serve as a priest in a closing festive Eucharist worthy of John's descriptions of heavenly worship in the Book of Revelation.
Through the Conference, I've also come to believe that it's important for clergy to have a better understanding of what church musicians do. And there's no better way to gain that understanding than to actually do it. It's unbelievable how much hard work and talent it takes to pull off just one service!
For me, this Conference brings to life the Collect for Church Musicians and Artists in The Book of Common Prayer (p. 819):
O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.