The Session of Grace Reformed Church hereby establishes this music policy; which we find to be agreeable to the Holy Word of God, in accordance with the constitution of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and unto the edification of those souls whom God has been pleased to place under our spiritual charge. Therefore:
1. This policy can only be amended by the Session.
2. A copy of this policy will be given to all those who participate regularly in the music ministries of the church.
3. All church musicians will submit to this policy.
II. Policies Pertaining to Good Musical Order
It is our earnest desire that the music ministries of Grace Reformed Church be regarded by God as decent, in order, and unto edification. Therefore:
1. The regular duties of interpreting and applying this policy belong to the Chief Musician: Dennis Baldridge.
2. An appeal to any decision or ruling made by the Chief Musician may be made to the Session; provided that it is filed in writing.
3. When there is more than one accompanist playing at the same time, one instrument will be designated by the Chief Musician as the lead instrument.
4. Any major alterations/embellishments (e.g., key changes, etc.) shall be made known in advance both to the minister and the other accompanist(s).
III. Policies Pertaining to the Public Worship of God
A. Congregational Singing
Congregational singing is, first and foremost, a vertical expression of corporate praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to God Almighty. Therefore:
1. We reject any form of congregational praise which would render any part of the congregation passive during public worship (e.g., so-called “specials” and “solos”). This, however, is not intended to prohibit antiphonal settings of praise.
2. We reject all songs which mimic worldly styles as unworthy of God’s infinite majesty.
Congregational singing is, secondarily, a horizontal ministry of teaching and admonition within the Body of Christ. Therefore:
1. The Psalms, having been inspired by God himself, shall be sung frequently.
2. We reject all hymns which contain doctrinal errors.
B. Instrumental Accompaniment
The purpose of instrumental accompaniment is to enable and enhance the congregational singing of God’s people. Therefore:
1. Accompanists must be members of the local church and have a life adorned by a godly walk.
2. The accompanist will endeavor to be perceived as leading and supporting the congregation (rather than competing with it for preeminence).
3. The accompanist will maintain a level of volume which is appropriately subordinate to the congregation’s singing.
4. The accompanist will limit the amount of ornamentation so as not to obscure the lyrics with flowery and excessive improvisations or elaborations.
C. The Prelude
The purpose of the prelude is to assist the saints as they engage in prayerful and quiet meditation prior to worship. Therefore:
1. The music should be reverent and contemplative.
2. The accompanist will endeavor to end the piece promptly and gracefully at the appointed time of worship.
3. After silent prayer, the accompanist will ordinarily play a short (i.e., 4-8 measure) quiet transition to signal the end of this part of the service.
D. On The Offertory
The purpose of the offertory is to keep the congregation worshipfully engaged during the potential lull which the necessary logistics of a collection can cause. Therefore:
1. If there is to be music during the time of the offering, let it be joyful in mood (since that is the emotion which ought to accompany giving).
2. The accompanist shall gracefully conclude the piece when the ushers have completed the collection (lest it appear to be an autonomous performance).
E. The Lord’s Supper
God’s appointed means of spiritual meditation during the administration of the sacrament are the words of institution, prayer, bread, and wine. Therefore:
1. Silence is appropriate during the administration of the Lord’s Supper.
2. Or, the accompanist shall gracefully conclude the piece when the elements have been distributed (lest it appear to be an autonomous performance).
F. The Postlude
The purpose of the postlude is to assist the saints both mentally and spiritually as they make transition from divine worship into the ministry of Christian fellowship. Therefore:
The music should be jubilant and stately.
G. The Final “Amen”
The purpose of the “Amen” at the end of a song is to give the congregation an opportunity to voice their heartfelt consent to those things of which they have just sung. Therefore:
1. The accompanist shall play the “Amen” with deliberate and confident firmness of tone.
2. Ordinarily, the “Amen” should be sung after Metrical Psalms.
3. Unless otherwise agreed upon, the “Amen” will be played as one full measure to each of the two syllables of the word.
H. The Afternoon Hymn Sing
The purpose of the Afternoon Hymn Sing is to prepare the congregation for a worshipful experience of corporate prayer and instruction. Therefore, these guidelines are to be observed:
1. Song Leaders must be male members of the local church and have a life adorned by a godly walk.
2. The Song Leader shall dress appropriately, conduct himself with dignity, and lead the congregation confidently.
3. The Song Leader will begin the Hymn Sing by greeting the saints with a warm and personal welcome, explaining why they have gathered together, and leading in prayer.
4. The Song Leader may take 3-4 hymn requests (depending upon the length), making sure to call upon both children and adults; allowing opportunity for people to share a reason for their request or occasionally highlighting a particularly edifying phrase or line in the song.
IV. Policies Pertaining to Special Music Ministries
A. Accompanist Apprenticeship
In order to equip the next generation of church musicians, we will offer weekly opportunities for apprenticeship training. The guidelines are as follows:
1. Apprentices must be members of the local church and posses a requisite level of maturity to participate in public ministry.
2. Apprentices are invited to prepare one of the following per week: The prelude, postlude, or a song during our afternoon hymn sing. Notice should be given the prior Sunday.
3. The Chief Musician, regular accompanist, or song leader may request a preview of the apprentice’s song choice to determine preparedness and the best placement of the piece.
4. The regular accompanists should share encouragement and advice with the apprentices.
B. Special Services
The purpose of the special services of the church is to grant occasion-specific opportunities for thanksgiving and praise unto God. It is good, proper, and necessary that these special services be distinguished from the formal and public worship of God which occurs regularly on the Sabbath Day. Therefore:
1. A multiplication of accompanists is appropriate.
2. A greater measure of musical liberty is granted to the accompanists.
C. A Note of Praise
The purpose of this ministry is to enhance the celebratory nature of the Sabbath by lifting up of our hearts unto God through musical praise and thanksgiving. Therefore:
1. Participants must be members of the Visible Church.
2. The music must be clearly sacred both in nature and content.
3. The coordinator will introduce each piece.
Further, since excellence is the standard in all sacrifices of worship, we establish these guidelines:
1. No tapes/CDs shall be used for accompaniment.
2. Participants will submit title, lyrics, and estimated length of piece to the coordinator at least one week in advance for evaluation and approval.
3. Participants will endeavor to demonstrate a careful and diligent preparation.
4. The coordinator may request a preview of the presentation.
5. In the event of too many participants, the coordinator may defer any piece to another Lord’s Day.
Further, since this is part of the public ministries of our church, we offer this admonition to the participants:
1. Abstain from all appearance of evil and carnality in the content, musical elements, and manner of presentation.
2. Do not allow your musical liberty to become a stumbling block for others.
D. The King’s Choir
The purpose of this ministry is twofold: It is intended first to reach out to the lost of our community through sacred music and evangelistic engagement and, secondarily, to disciple our musically illiterate culture. Therefore:
1. Choir members must be professing Christians with a life adorned by a godly walk.
2. Some sight-reading skill is required.
3. Regular attendance at rehearsals is expected in order to participate in this ministry.
Updated January of 2015