“Why do you sing?” Allison Adam asked us that last night and a seminar that she led at the Calvin Seminary Chapel. Answers varied from “to build community” and “to celebrate something” to “it helps us remember” and “to express how we feel.” Allison pointed out that all of those reasons (and a few I forgot) are also reasons we sing in worship and she led us through a few songs in each category, songs that were mostly new to most of us in the seminar. The group sang well (often singing a capella but sometimes ably accompanied by Rachel Klompmaker on piano and a quartet of percussionists) and we learned the new songs quickly due in no small part to Allison’s skill as a song leader and teacher.
Along the way we picked up tips for teaching songs to our congregations and learned some songs that could be very well used in worship. Many of the songs came from the Iona Community, where Allison worked for a number of years. I especially liked the John Bell songs and singing them always reminds me of when I hung out with him and Ron Rienstra for a few days when I played electric guitar for the Hymn Society in Minnesota. (Not many people can say that they did that - this is a group that doesn't use the electric guitar often.) Allison's delightful manner, her wonderful gift for songleading and her Scottish accent made for an evening that went by quickly. Laura and I also got to see a couple of friends that we don’t see very often which made the evening even better. Thanks to the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship for sponsoring this event. I wish some of my Fourteenth Street Church friends had come. While there was a fine crowd there was plenty of room for more people and our church would have benefited from more of us learning from Allison