PipeChat Digest #3171 - Saturday, October 12, 2002
 
silence is golden
  by "Randolph Runyon" <runyonr@muohio.edu>
 

(back) Subject: silence is golden From: "Randolph Runyon" <runyonr@muohio.edu> Date: Sat, 12 Oct 2002 20:53:33 -0400   > This message is in MIME format. Since your mail reader does not = understand this format, some or all of this message may not be legible.   --MS_Mac_OE_3117300813_2523617_MIME_Part Content-type: text/plain; charset=3D"US-ASCII" Content-transfer-encoding: 7bit   I thought some of you might be interested in the following compilation = from Choralist. I know it's an old topic, but some of the replies were pretty interesting all the same.     Randy Runyon Music Director Zion Lutheran Church Hamilton, Ohio runyonr@muohio.edu       I have compiled the many replies I received to the following question, which began:   Do you use a statement at the beginning of your order of service bulletin that requests the congregation to listen to the prelude instead = of talking, laughing, etc. etc.?.............   The majority of solutions received follow variations of this sequence: 1. a bell or chime brings the congregation out of their conversations. 2. a minister welcomes the congregation and then there is a time for announcements. 3. the minister then announces the beginning of worship, with an = invitation that it begin with the organ prelude.   Ruth McKendree Treen First Congregational Church Chatham, Massachusetts rtreen@attbi.com   COMPILATION:   * We also tried all kinds of ways to diminish the pre-service talking and have finally found the answer! The service begins = informally. The pastor walks to the front of the church, greets the congregation and then we share the peace. The pastor then makes parish announcements. At the end of that, he says, "Let us all be in silence before the Lord." ....and then the prelude begins. It has made an incredible, positive = change!   * The most effective method I've seen is for the call to worship to = occur before the prelude.   * I have seen two tactics that have helped: 1. Statements in the bulletin. My home church had the following: "God speaks to us before the service. We speak to God during the service. We speak to each other after the service." 2. Announcements first, then the statement "Let us now worship God," then the prelude. The congregation gets the impression that the service has begun.   * "Please refrain from conversation during the Prelude: others may wish to worship." Or better: ".... others may have come to worship." (!!!)   * Can a note be posted on the doors to the sanctuary saying the church = is God's house and a place to be respectful (etc. etc.)? Also, could the = choir enter the church in some sort of order, (demonstrating that the choir is going to sing). Perhaps some sort of entrance by the choir would quiet = down the congregation. We've had a note posted on all of our doors and haven't had a problem = in years. Make sure, though, that your choir is leading by example (that they aren't talking before church starts, either).   * I used to have this problem, but we've implemented two things that help. When it time for service to begin, we ring a bell - a chime, = actually, that cuts through the din and reminds people it's time to "attend" as it were. We then have announcements and the usual folderol of beginning our time together and then we have the Prelude. I suppose you could call it a musical call to worship, but I still call it the Prelude. Even the kids (when they're in service) know it's time to be quiet and listen deeply. That has worked and it seems to set a tone for the rest of our time together. Our bulletin also has a statement to the effect of requesting silence, but it also has little effect. Let's face it, subtle hints do no good on congregations. If it's that important for your congregation (or if your congregation is exceptionally loud), it needs to be mentioned to them directly, and specific action taken. I recommend having the liturgist or pastor mention (maybe even make a sermon out of it, explaining the different aspects and symbols of worship) that the worship experience is to begin in humble silence and meditation, in which the prelude is an ideal accompaniment for that attitude of prayer, and that *from now on* they are requested to enter in silence. This will probably take a few weeks, and constant reminders will need to be made, and there WILL be people who don't like it (and will let you know), but I'm sure the vast majority will appreciate the increased depth of spiritual meaning. It might be a good idea to couple this with a few other changes as well, such as a different tune for the doxology, order of service, etc.   * What do you see the function of the Prelude as being? (I answered: Aha! Now we get into the purpose of music before the = service. I think of it as preparation for worship, and a time to be thoughtful, to meditate, to pray -- a time of silence to use in whatever way the congregation finds useful, but not as background music for conversation! Our assistant minister brought up the need for quiet listening.)   Compilation, continued... * So many of us "fight" this. What we currently do seems to be = working, for us, for now: Our service begins at 5 minutes before the hour. One of our pastors welcomes people, greet visitors, and usually reads a brief, focusing sentence of scripture. Then we have the prelude (a different instrumental group each week, sometimes organ), followed on the hour by an opening hymn. We also do not process, and the choir/service participants comes to the loft/chancel as the prelude begins. (The choir is often in place before the prelude. The pastors come to the chancel from the nave, signaling a start to the business at hand.) This has helped quite a bit. Our ushers close all but one door into = the nave, and continue to seat people from the narthex. At this point, almost all the "noise" (I hesitate to call it that ... it's people talking to each other. That too is probably a joyful noise that pleases God!) is from the narthex, and there is a good attention/focus among those seated and being seated.   * you wrote : I have changed the sequence at the beginning, so that the choir and ministers now enter before the prelude begins. (The choir does not process.) And the acolyte now comes up the aisle right after the prelude begins. This has helped the conversation level, but more needs to be = done! That's the approach we took, too, and it helped, but as you say, there was still a good bit of lolly-gagging, as we call it........ So the minister decided on the following which worked perfectly-- Everyone enters, even the choir (they sit). Before the minister sits he says, "We will now begin our worship and praise." It takes a couple of seconds for a few to realize they're not at WallyWorld anymore, but when they do then I begin......   I allowed the people to talk as they came into the sanctuary and treated this as a time of gathering (a biblical and historical part of worship). At the designated hour, we would then welcome all who were there and verbally call them to a time of preparation for worship so they could prepare their hearts for an encounter with God. We THEN had the prelude as the people meditated. Hope this helps.   * We don't have a printed statement in our bulletin, but my prelude usually is quite loud, so it can be heard above the congregational din. I save my best and most thoughtful music for the offertory, which is = played when the congregation is in a more prayerful (and quiet) mood.   * The chapel at Walter Reed Army Hospital used to have a lovely sign on = a 4-foot post that read, "If you must whisper, whisper a prayer." Try it.   * Our church has solved the problem--at least so far. A few minutes before our service starts we have announcements, and we greet each other = for about five minutes (they can get as loud as they want!). We then have a prayer that is read in unison. Then, the Prelude is performed. The = unison prayer sets everyone's minds for worship, and there is absolute silence in the congregation.   * Try playing a very spirited Prelude, gradually building the registration until you're playing on full organ. Naturally, the congregation will talk even louder to "keep up" with you. When you arrive at a suitable -- but unpredictable -- cadence in the music, take your hands off the keys. Before the congregation's lips smack shut, somebody will have been caught shouting something embarrassing, like church gossip or recipe ingredients. They will be much quieter during Preludes after that.   * Before the prelude our pastor steps up to the pulpit and says: "Let = us quiet are hearts and prepare for worship" or something along those = lines... It doesn't silence all the talkers, but in general people hush up. We have another time to greet people around you... "the passing of the Peace"   * At Temple Israel in Miami I have started making the Preludes part of the Rabbi's "Schematic," meaning the music presented is planned as part of the liturgy for that service. Latecomers or talkers now are begining to realize that they are missing something integral to the mood and pacing of the service. We have also started skipping an opening hymn, and going directly from the Prelude into the lighting of the Shabbat candles. So, I now don't make the Prelude distinct from the service, but integral to the service. It is working!!   * A couple of Sundays of stopping abruptly in the middle of your = prelude when the noise gets too loud will help embarrass them, if not shut them up. It does work, I've done it! Use a piece that is soft and loud - notice how = the louder you play the louder they talk - choose a spot in the loud section = to just stop playing. Do nothing . . . just let the silence continue until = the service starts. You'll probably catch them trading Chicken Salad recipes, or gossiping about someone.   * We ring a beautiful bell which we call THE BELL OF AWARENESS. = Everyone has learned to be quiet for the prelude which follows. We also addressed = the issue from the pulpit and it was the general consensus that people wanted the silence for the prelude. It even works for our postlude. Everyone sits and listens!   * We print the following in our bulletin: The service of worship = begins with the music of the organ. Through it's power and brilliance, may you feel the majesty and glory of God; in it's quietness, God's peace. I have also found it helpful to give any instructions for the worship service prior to the prelude and then inviting all present to prepare = their hearts for worship as the prelude begins.   * Our church has changed the order of service to put the announcements before the prelude. The choir and minister walk in, and when the minister is finished reading the announcements, he says something like "Now let us prepare our hearts for worship." This has worked quite well getting the congregation quiet for the prelude, and the announcements don't interrupt the flow of the service either.   * Personally, I've got mixed feelings about quiet during the prelude. Before the change I had fun during the prelude, sneaking in, as a modulation, a line of songs like "Mary had a little lamb" and "Puff, the Magic Dragon" just to see if anyone noticed. (Nobody ever did). Also, I never had to worry about playing the music perfectly. Now that it's quiet during the prelude, I can't do that anymore, although it is nice to start off the service with a worshipful attitude.   * One thing that has REALLY worked in my congregation is to have a = short time of parish announcements given 5-10 minutes before worship is to begin, lead by the pastor in our case, or it could be a lay leader...it could go from general announcements to announcing the numbers in church school for that moment. THis gets people silent and focused. Immediately after I start the prelude, and the acolyte gets to work. It has really worked well for me.   * Check AGO magazine, a few months ago, had MANY letters to the editor regarding this. Back in August we started having the handbells ring a peal before the prelude begins. I use three or four ringers, and each plays some sort of repetitive pattern. I figure out what they will play each Sunday, in the key of the organ prelude. It has really worked for us, but it is important that the congregation can hear and SEE the handbell ringers. = We pealed from the balcony one Sunday and the conversations didn't skip a = beat!   * You could have the prelude after announcements and welcome. That wasy all would have been seated. Gathering time, when organists frequently = play a prelude, is by nature noisy. * Having been a full-time church musician for seventeen years, I'm sympathetic to your plight. Just one note -- an associate pastor, when we were discussing this issue, once asked me the following question: "If the prelude is part of the service, what is it the prelude to?" I couldn't come up with a very good answer. Perhaps a name change might be in order, e.g. Voluntary, etc. * This is a dilemma for me too! Our "statement," which has no discernible effect, especially at the later(main) service, reads: "As we enter into God's Sanctuary this morning, may we prepare ourselves in quiet meditation to Worship God." (This is exactly as it appears, in bold type but above the heading = "ASSEMBLE IN GOD'S NAME" designating the first section of the worship service.) I raise the issue with Pastor & worship committee from time to time, but = the response is usually that the conversation indicates good fellowship and is not to be stifled. Our layout contributes: the entrance area is low ceilinged, rather small and dark, while the sanctuary is a pleasant, light and airy space, in simple Colonial style, with some reverberation. The entrance of the acolyte & clergy doesn't produce quiet either. Only when I ring the chime after the opening voluntary do the people settle = down. (Bong Bong BONG, 3 times) At other churches I have served, the people were in the habit of not = talking once they entered the sanctuary space. In one place I played "pre-service music" for ten minutes, before the official start of worship with the opening voluntary. Nobody ever talked through any of it. There was a "be still" statement in the bulletin, but more likely there just weren't that many people there and/or they weren't awake yet :-) I don't have a solution, just deal with it by varying the kinds of music I play, and trying to make it worth listening to for those who can hear it.   * Right under the "order of worship" title... "We welcome you to our service this morning and ask that you use the Prelude as a time of silent preparation for worship." and it works... now at the end.... that's another story, but here's what we have: Upon leaving the sanctuary this morning, please be mindful of those choosing to use the Postlude as their final act of worship.   * I think it cuts both ways. A really quiet worshipful church for 10 minutes before the service begins is also less welcoming to new people, and is also less celebrative (my choir sings a call to worship and processes with the opening hymn). I think you need to look for a middle ground (a modicum of decorum is a nice thing) rather than an edict of some kind. Just my view of it.   * At my parents' church (Baptist, fwiw), it is understood that things get started five minutes or so before 11. At that time someone comes out and does the announcements, after which the organist chimes the hour and then plays the prelude. People still talk a little bit, but for the most part having someone come out and talk and get people's attention seems to make them realize that things have started. There may also be a statement...let me see if I have a bulletin from last time I was down there on a Sunday...nope, no statement, but there is a heading about the gathering of God's people before the listing of the announcements ("Life and Work of the Church," actually) and after that another heading, "Preparation for Worship" before the chiming of the hour and prelude (and the chiming of the hour is listed in the order of worship)   * About twenty years ago, when talking to pastor and committee about a position in a Methodist church, I simply told the committee that I just didn't want to play over conversation. My proposal was simple and generally effective: Before the service starts, the minister comes out, makes any and all the usual announcements and at the conclusion of the announcements simply tells the congregation that it is now time to turn our attention to preparation for worship while or organist shares the prelude. THEN, and only then, does the prelude begin. With few exceptions, this order has eliminated that all rude noise. I've held a number of poistions in other churches since then, but have always insisted on this procedure because it works.   * A few years ago we solved this problem. Our normal order of worship begins, not with the prelude, but with the ringing of the church bell when the choir and the ministers enter. This is followed immediately by any and all announcements. After the announcements, one of the ministers uses a phrase like "Let us now prepare for worship" and then the prelude begins followed by an introit, call to worship, opening hymn, etc.   * We have the announcements before the prelude, which has helped tremendously.   * I have basically given up at my current parish on expecting much reverence (much less silence) during the prelude - our congregation, and to some extent our pastors, see(s) this as community time and so you can pretty = much forget about people not talking. Those that don't talk don't seem to have much effect on silencing those that do, in other words, the talkers don't seem to think it at all unusual to be gabbing away and have someone in the next pew sitting there reverently. This factor varies from service to service - our early service crowd, mostly older folks, are really pretty reverent - as the morning proceeds, the cacophony builds. A year ago, I visited the Vatican in Rome and got to see the Sistine Chapel - talking is not allowed - yet, there is a staff person on hand to periodically (every 2-3 minutes) say "Silencio!" because the whispering builds and then turns to talking and must be suppressed - it seems to be a human trait to just never be capable of shutting up! I was very = distracted by this and ended up leaving - maybe I can visit there again when it's not the high tourist season.... I have come to believe that reverence is a learned behavior that takes perhaps many years to learn, and some worshipers never are given an opportunity to learn it - therefore, you are going to beat yourself into frustration if you think you can demand silence and actually get it We also encourage children to attend worship, and once families are in there, it's hard to keep it down - and of course, the adults are generally making as much or more noise than the kids During our evening Lenten services, we dim the lights, use candles, block off one of the entrance doors, and post a sign that says "Please keep silence as you enter the sanctuary" - this has been partially effective, = and it is helpful if the music is already going when the congregation begins = to be seated - it seems that whichever starts first, music vs. talking, will claim and retain the upper hand. One other solution that may work has been in practice for many years in the church of which I am a member: a Taize prayer service that begins 15 minutes prior to the start of the worship service. It sets a quiet mood, and the congregation understands that if they enter the sanctuary, silence is expected - if they want to socialize they can go downstairs to the fellowship hall - we began this practice in 1992 and it has continued to this day - and I believe that this particular congregation does understand and appreciate reverence and silence.   * Your idea about seating the choir before the prelude is a good one - = I have used this practice from time to time, but I also have to swear my choir to silence and remind them that if one or two start talking, that's all it takes to break the meditative mood.   * Do you also print that the congregation should not laugh during = prayer? If the prelude really gets to the congregation there is no need to ask for silence. I had a congregation which was used to raise at the first note of the postlude to storm out talking and laughing. I never requested that they wait for the postlude. However, it started that a few people stayed to listen; then an increasing number sat down to listen causing the others to leave in silence and after a few months the whole = congregation sat down after the benediction to listen to the postlude and to leave afterwards in silence: There was no organ play anymore to quench the = noise.   * Silence seems to be more and more difficult for people these days. = The whole world has attention deficit disorder, as far as I can see. And I = think the idea behind Muzak has crept into the church---so that the prelude is just like what they play in the store while you're shopping. In fact, whenever my congregation shuts up for the prelude it gives me the creeps. One church I know of starts the service with the acolytes (or anyone, for that matter), coming down the aisle with rainsticks. That sound = signals to people that something is going to happen. It's a little earthy-crunchy granola for my Episcopal folks here in north Jersey, but maybe the folks = up in your neck of the woods would dig it. I like your suggestion of having the ushers greet people in a soft voice. The other side of this is ~ the formality of church and the feigned piety is what has turned people off in the past. If people are quiet = because it's something they think they should be doing, then it's going to make = them think that church is the kind of place where they can't be themselves. And if the silence is not followed by something profound and meaningful from = the pulpit and musicians, they won't see any point to it. I'd say if the feelings are good amongst the people, it's not worth a big fight. Rest assured there's someone out there listening to your prelude! I play in a temple, too. There's no tradition of silence before the service. What a din!   * Over my many years in this position, we have tried everything you listed and have found that, without oral reminders almost weekly, none of them works. Our choir processes on the opening hymn. For awhile we tried having the minister give Opening Words (from the rear) ending with "...and now our morning Prelude Music." This did necessitate beginning the = service 5-10 min. earlier, or ending later. The RE program had issues with the timing. Another thing we have done is position the ushers in the Narthex (vestibule), keeping the swinging doors closed after each entrant and that had the best chance of succeeding. However, some felt it was = 'unfriendly.' I find that the ushers themselves are often noisy and set the pattern of behavior. Isn't it amazing how most churches are caught in what is almost = a cultural shift? We even have a Moment of Friendship buried within the service just after the children leave for class. But that does not seem = to supplant the chance encounters as people arrive. By the way, our building is a stone Gothic structure (Ralph Adams = Cram's last cathedral!) seating 400 easily, so the architecture supports = formality and dignity and tradition. Even so ........         --MS_Mac_OE_3117300813_2523617_MIME_Part Content-type: text/html; charset=3D"US-ASCII" Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable   <HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>silence is golden</TITLE> </HEAD> <BODY> I thought some of you might be interested in the following compilation = from=3D Choralist. &nbsp;I know it's an old topic, but some of the replies were = pre=3D tty interesting all the same.<BR> <BR> <BR> Randy Runyon<BR> Music Director<BR> Zion Lutheran Church<BR> Hamilton, Ohio<BR> runyonr@muohio.edu<BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> <TT>I have compiled the many replies I received to the following question, =3D <BR> which began: &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<BR> <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Do you use a statement at the beginning of your order = of=3D service <BR> bulletin that requests the congregation to listen to the prelude instead = of=3D <BR> talking, laughing, etc. etc.?............. <BR> <BR> The majority of solutions received follow variations of this sequence: = <BR> 1. &nbsp;a bell or chime brings the congregation out of their = conversations=3D .. <BR> 2. &nbsp;a minister welcomes the congregation and then there is a time for = =3D <BR> announcements. <BR> 3. &nbsp;the minister then announces the beginning of worship, with an = invi=3D tation <BR> that it begin with the organ prelude. <BR> <BR> Ruth McKendree Treen <BR> First Congregational Church <BR> Chatham, Massachusetts <BR> <FONT COLOR=3D3D"#0000FF"><U>rtreen@attbi.com<BR> </U></FONT><BR> COMPILATION: <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;We also tried all kinds of ways to diminish the = pre-ser=3D vice <BR> talking and have finally &nbsp;found the answer! &nbsp;The service begins = =3D informally. <BR> The pastor walks to the front of the church, greets the congregation and = <B=3D R> then we share the peace. The pastor then makes parish announcements. <BR> At the end of that, he says, &nbsp;&quot;Let us all be in silence before = th=3D e Lord.&quot; <BR> ....and then the prelude begins. &nbsp;It has made an incredible, positive = c=3D hange! <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The most effective method I've seen is for the call to = =3D worship to occur <BR> before the prelude. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I have seen two tactics that have helped: <BR> 1. Statements in the bulletin. My home church had the following: <BR> &quot;God speaks to us before the service. We speak to God during the <BR> service. We speak to each other after the service.&quot; <BR> 2. Announcements first, then the statement &quot;Let us now worship = God,&qu=3D ot; <BR> then the prelude. The congregation gets the impression that the <BR> service has begun. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&quot;Please refrain from conversation during the = Prelu=3D de: <BR> others may wish to worship.&quot; <BR> Or better: <BR> &quot;.... others may have come to worship.&quot; &nbsp;(!!!) <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Can a note be posted on the doors to the sanctuary = sayi=3D ng the church is <BR> God's house and a place to be respectful (etc. etc.)? Also, could the = choir=3D <BR> enter the church in some sort of order, (demonstrating that the choir is = <B=3D R> going to sing). Perhaps some sort of entrance by the choir would quiet = down=3D <BR> the congregation. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;We've had a note posted on all of our doors and haven't = =3D had a problem in <BR> years. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Make sure, though, that your choir is leading by = example=3D (that they <BR> aren't <BR> talking before church starts, either). <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I used to have this problem, but we've implemented two = =3D things that <BR> help. When it time for service to begin, we ring a bell - a chime, = actually=3D , <BR> that cuts through the din and reminds people it's time to = &quot;attend&quot=3D ; as it <BR> were. &nbsp;&nbsp;We then have announcements and the usual folderol of = begi=3D nning our <BR> time together and then we have the Prelude. &nbsp;I suppose you could call = =3D it a <BR> musical call to worship, but I still call it the Prelude. &nbsp;Even the = ki=3D ds <BR> (when they're in service) know it's time to be quiet and listen deeply. = <BR=3D > That has worked and it seems to set a tone for the rest of our time <BR> together. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Our bulletin also has a statement to the effect of = reque=3D sting silence, <BR> but it also has little effect. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Let's face it, subtle hints do no good on = congregations.=3D &nbsp;If it's that <BR> important for your congregation (or if your congregation is exceptionally = <=3D BR> loud), it needs to be mentioned to them directly, and specific action <BR> taken. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I recommend having the liturgist or pastor mention (mayb=3D e even make a <BR> sermon out of it, explaining the different aspects and symbols of <BR> worship) that the worship experience is to begin in humble silence and = <BR> meditation, in which the prelude is an ideal accompaniment for that <BR> attitude of prayer, and that &nbsp;*from now on* &nbsp;they are requested = t=3D o enter <BR> in silence. &nbsp;This will probably take a few weeks, and constant = reminde=3D rs <BR> will need to be made, and there WILL be people who don't like it (and <BR> will let you know), but I'm sure the vast majority will appreciate the = <BR> increased depth of spiritual meaning. &nbsp;It might be a good idea to = coup=3D le <BR> this with a few other changes as well, such as a different tune for the = <BR=3D > doxology, order of service, etc. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;What do you see the function of the Prelude as being? = <=3D BR> (I answered: &nbsp;Aha! &nbsp;Now we get into the purpose of music before = t=3D he service. <BR> I think of it as preparation for worship, and a time to be thoughtful, to = <=3D BR> meditate, &nbsp;<BR> to pray -- a time of silence to use in whatever way the congregation finds = =3D <BR> useful, but not as background music for conversation! &nbsp;Our assistant = <=3D BR> minister brought up the need for quiet listening.) <BR> <BR> Compilation, continued... <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;So many of us &quot;fight&quot; this. &nbsp;What we = cur=3D rently do seems to be working, <BR> for us, for now: <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Our service begins at 5 minutes before the hour. = &nbsp;O=3D ne of our pastors <BR> welcomes people, greet visitors, and usually reads a brief, focusing <BR> sentence of scripture. &nbsp;Then we have the prelude (a different <BR> instrumental group each week, sometimes organ), followed on the hour by = <BR=3D > an opening hymn. &nbsp;We also do not process, and the choir/service <BR> participants comes to the loft/chancel as the prelude begins. &nbsp;(The = <B=3D R> choir is often in place before the prelude. &nbsp;The pastors come to the = <=3D BR> chancel from the nave, signaling a start to the business at hand.) <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;This has helped quite a bit. &nbsp;Our ushers close all = =3D but one door into the <BR> nave, and continue to seat people from the narthex. &nbsp;At this point, = <B=3D R> almost all the &quot;noise&quot; (I hesitate to call it that ... it's = peopl=3D e <BR> talking to each other. &nbsp;That too is probably a joyful noise that = pleas=3D es <BR> God!) is from the narthex, and there is a good attention/focus among <BR> those seated and being seated. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;you wrote : I have changed the sequence at the = beginnin=3D g, so that the <BR> choir <BR> and ministers now enter before the prelude begins. &nbsp;(The choir does = no=3D t <BR> process.) And the acolyte now comes up the aisle right after the prelude = <B=3D R> begins. &nbsp;This has helped the conversation level, but more needs to be = =3D done! <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;That's the approach we took, too, and it helped, but as = =3D you say, there <BR> was <BR> still a good bit of lolly-gagging, as we call it........ <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;So the minister decided on the following which worked = pe=3D rfectly-- <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Everyone enters, even the choir (they sit). Before the = m=3D inister sits he <BR> says, &quot;We will now begin our worship and praise.&quot; It takes a = coup=3D le of <BR> seconds for a few to realize they're not at WallyWorld anymore, but when = <B=3D R> they do then I begin...... <BR> <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I allowed the people to talk as they came into the = sanct=3D uary and <BR> treated this as a time of gathering (a biblical and historical part of = <BR> worship). &nbsp;At the designated hour, we would then welcome all who were = =3D <BR> there and verbally call them to a time of preparation for worship so <BR> they could prepare their hearts for an encounter with God. &nbsp;We THEN = ha=3D d <BR> the prelude as the people meditated. &nbsp;Hope this helps. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;We don't have a printed statement in our bulletin, but =3D my prelude <BR> usually is quite loud, so it can be heard above the congregational din. = <BR=3D > I save my best and most thoughtful music for the offertory, which is = played=3D <BR> when the congregation is in a more prayerful (and quiet) mood. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The chapel at Walter Reed Army Hospital used to have a = =3D lovely sign on a <BR> 4-foot post that read, &quot;If you must whisper, whisper a prayer.&quot; = &=3D nbsp;Try it. <BR> <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Our church has solved the problem--at least so far. = &nb=3D sp;A few minutes <BR> before our service starts we have announcements, and we greet each other = fo=3D r <BR> about five minutes (they can get as loud as they want!). &nbsp;We then = have=3D a <BR> prayer that is read in unison. &nbsp;Then, the Prelude is performed. = &nbsp;=3D The unison <BR> prayer sets everyone's minds for worship, and there is absolute silence in = =3D <BR> the congregation. &nbsp;<BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Try playing a very spirited Prelude, gradually = building=3D the <BR> registration until you're playing on full organ. &nbsp;Naturally, the <BR> congregation will talk even louder to &quot;keep up&quot; with you. = &nbsp;W=3D hen you <BR> arrive at a suitable -- but unpredictable -- cadence in the music, take = <BR=3D > your hands off the keys. &nbsp;Before the congregation's lips smack shut, = <=3D BR> somebody will have been caught shouting something embarrassing, like <BR> church gossip or recipe ingredients. &nbsp;They will be much quieter = during=3D <BR> Preludes after that. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Before the prelude our pastor steps up to the pulpit = an=3D d says: &nbsp;&quot;Let us <BR> quiet are hearts and prepare for worship&quot; or something along those = lin=3D es... <BR> It doesn't silence all the talkers, but in general people hush up. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;We have another time to greet people around you... = &quot=3D ;the passing of the <BR> Peace&quot; <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;At Temple Israel in Miami I have started making the = Pre=3D ludes part of <BR> the Rabbi's &quot;Schematic,&quot; meaning the music presented is planned = a=3D s part of <BR> the liturgy for that service. &nbsp;Latecomers or talkers now are begining = =3D to <BR> realize that they are missing something integral to the mood and pacing of = =3D <BR> the service. &nbsp;&nbsp;We have also started skipping an opening hymn, = and=3D going <BR> directly from the Prelude into the lighting of the Shabbat candles. = &nbsp;S=3D o, I <BR> now don't make the Prelude distinct from the service, but integral to the = <=3D BR> service. &nbsp;It is working!! <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;A couple of Sundays of stopping abruptly in the middle = =3D of your prelude <BR> when &nbsp;<BR> the noise gets too loud will help embarrass them, if not shut them up. = &nbs=3D p;It <BR> does work, I've done it! &nbsp;Use a piece that is soft and loud - notice = h=3D ow the <BR> louder you play the louder they talk - choose a spot in the loud section = to=3D <BR> just stop playing. &nbsp;Do nothing . . . just let the silence continue = unt=3D il the <BR> service starts. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;You'll probably catch them trading Chicken Salad = recipes=3D , or gossiping <BR> about &nbsp;<BR> someone. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;We ring a beautiful bell which we call THE BELL OF = AWAR=3D ENESS. Everyone <BR> has learned to be quiet for the prelude which follows. We also addressed = th=3D e <BR> issue from the pulpit and it was the general consensus that people wanted = <=3D BR> the silence for the prelude. It even works for our postlude. Everyone sits = =3D <BR> and listens! <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;We print the following in our bulletin: &nbsp;The = servi=3D ce of worship begins <BR> with the music of the organ. &nbsp;Through it's power and brilliance, may = y=3D ou <BR> feel the majesty and glory of God; in it's quietness, God's peace. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I have also found it helpful to give any instructions = fo=3D r the worship <BR> service prior to the prelude and then inviting all present to prepare = their=3D <BR> hearts for worship as the prelude begins. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Our church has changed the order of service to put the = =3D announcements <BR> before the prelude. &nbsp;The choir and minister walk in, and when the = <BR> minister is finished reading the announcements, he says something <BR> like &quot;Now let us prepare our hearts for worship.&quot; &nbsp;This has = =3D worked <BR> quite well getting the congregation quiet for the prelude, and the <BR> announcements don't interrupt the flow of the service either. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Personally, I've got mixed feelings about quiet during = =3D the prelude. <BR> Before the change I had fun during the prelude, sneaking in, as a <BR> modulation, a line of songs like &quot;Mary had a little lamb&quot; and = &qu=3D ot;Puff, <BR> the Magic Dragon&quot; just to see if anyone noticed. &nbsp;(Nobody ever = di=3D d). <BR> Also, I never had to worry about playing the music perfectly. &nbsp;Now = <B=3D R> that it's quiet during the prelude, I can't do that anymore, although <BR> it is nice to start off the service with a worshipful attitude. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;One thing that has REALLY worked in my congregation is = =3D to have a short <BR> time of parish announcements given 5-10 minutes before worship is to <BR> begin, lead by the pastor in our case, or it could be a lay leader...it = <BR=3D > could go from general announcements to announcing the numbers in church = <BR=3D > school for that moment. &nbsp;THis gets people silent and focused. = &nbsp;Im=3D mediately <BR> after I start the prelude, and the acolyte gets to work. &nbsp;It has = reall=3D y <BR> worked well for me. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Check AGO magazine, a few months ago, had MANY letters = =3D to the editor <BR> regarding this. &nbsp;&nbsp;<BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Back in August we started having the handbells ring a = pe=3D al &nbsp;before the <BR> prelude begins. &nbsp;I use three or four ringers, and each plays some = sort=3D of <BR> repetitive pattern. &nbsp;I figure out what they will play each Sunday, in = =3D the <BR> key of the organ prelude. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;It has really worked for us, = bu=3D t it is <BR> important that the congregation can hear and SEE the handbell ringers. = &nbs=3D p;&nbsp;We <BR> pealed from the balcony one Sunday and the conversations didn't skip a = beat=3D ! <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;You could have the prelude after announcements and = welc=3D ome. That wasy <BR> all would have been seated. &nbsp;Gathering time, when organists = frequently=3D play <BR> a prelude, is by nature noisy. <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Having been a full-time church musician for seventeen = y=3D ears, <BR> I'm sympathetic to your plight. &nbsp;Just one note -- an associate = pastor,=3D <BR> when we were discussing this issue, once asked me the following question: = <=3D BR> &quot;If the prelude is part of the service, what is it the prelude = to?&quo=3D t; <BR> I couldn't come up with a very good answer. &nbsp;Perhaps a name change = mig=3D ht <BR> be in order, e.g. Voluntary, etc. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;This is a dilemma for me too! &nbsp;Our = &quot;statement=3D ,&quot; which has no <BR> discernible <BR> effect, especially at the later(main) service, reads: <BR> &quot;As we enter into God's Sanctuary this morning, <BR> may we prepare ourselves in quiet meditation to Worship God.&quot; <BR> (This is exactly as it appears, in bold type but above the heading = &quot;AS=3D SEMBLE <BR> IN GOD'S NAME&quot; designating the first section of the worship service.) = =3D <BR> I raise the issue with Pastor &amp; worship committee from time to time, = bu=3D t the <BR> response is usually that the conversation indicates good fellowship and is = =3D <BR> not to be stifled. &nbsp;Our layout contributes: &nbsp;the entrance area = is=3D low <BR> ceilinged, rather small and dark, while the sanctuary is a pleasant, light = =3D <BR> and airy space, in simple Colonial style, with some reverberation. <BR> The entrance of the acolyte &amp; clergy doesn't produce quiet either. = &nbs=3D p;Only <BR> when I ring the chime after the opening voluntary do the people settle = down=3D .. <BR> (Bong Bong BONG, 3 times) <BR> At other churches I have served, the people were in the habit of not = talkin=3D g <BR> once they entered the sanctuary space. &nbsp;In one place I played = &quot;pr=3D e-service <BR> music&quot; for ten minutes, before the official start of worship with the = =3D <BR> opening voluntary. &nbsp;Nobody ever talked through any of it. &nbsp;There = =3D was a &quot;be <BR> still&quot; statement in the bulletin, but more likely there just weren't = t=3D hat <BR> many people there and/or they weren't awake yet :-) <BR> I don't have a solution, just deal with it by varying the kinds of music I = =3D <BR> play, and trying to make it worth listening to for those who can hear it. = <=3D BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Right under the &quot;order of worship&quot; title... = <=3D BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&quot;We welcome you to our service this morning and = ask=3D that you use the <BR> Prelude as a time of silent preparation for worship.&quot; <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;and it works... <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;now at the end.... that's another story, but here's = what=3D we have: <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Upon leaving the sanctuary this morning, please be = mindf=3D ul of those <BR> choosing to use the Postlude as their final act of worship. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I think it cuts both ways. &nbsp;A really quiet = worship=3D ful church for 10 <BR> minutes before the service begins is also less welcoming to new people, = <BR=3D > and is also less celebrative (my choir sings a call to worship and <BR> processes with the opening hymn). &nbsp;I think you need to look for a = midd=3D le <BR> ground (a modicum of decorum is a nice thing) rather than an edict of some = =3D <BR> kind. &nbsp;Just my view of it. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;At my parents' church (Baptist, fwiw), it is <BR> understood that things get started five minutes or so <BR> before 11. At that time someone comes out and does the <BR> announcements, after which the organist chimes the <BR> hour and then plays the prelude. People still talk a <BR> little bit, but for the most part having someone come <BR> out and talk and get people's attention seems to make <BR> them realize that things have started. There may also <BR> be a statement...let me see if I have a bulletin from <BR> last time I was down there on a Sunday...nope, no <BR> statement, but there is a heading about the gathering <BR> of God's people before the listing of the <BR> announcements (&quot;Life and Work of the Church,&quot; <BR> actually) and after that another heading, &quot;Preparation <BR> for Worship&quot; before the chiming of the hour and <BR> prelude (and the chiming of the hour is listed in the <BR> order of worship) <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;About twenty years ago, when talking to pastor and = <BR> committee about a position in a Methodist church, I <BR> simply told the committee that I just didn't want to <BR> play over conversation. &nbsp;My proposal was simple and <BR> generally effective: &nbsp;Before the service starts, the <BR> minister comes out, makes any and all the usual <BR> announcements and at the conclusion of the <BR> announcements simply tells the congregation that it is <BR> now time to turn our attention to preparation for <BR> worship while or organist shares the prelude. &nbsp;THEN, <BR> and only then, does the prelude begin. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;With few exceptions, this order has eliminated that = <BR> all rude noise. &nbsp;I've held a number of poistions in <BR> other churches since then, but have always insisted on <BR> this procedure because it works. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;A few years ago we solved this problem. Our normal = orde=3D r of worship <BR> begins, not with the prelude, but with the ringing of the church bell <BR> when the choir and the ministers enter. This is followed immediately <BR> by any and all announcements. After the announcements, one of the <BR> ministers uses a phrase like &quot;Let us now prepare for worship&quot; = and=3D <BR> then the prelude begins followed by an introit, call to worship, <BR> opening hymn, etc. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;We have the announcements before the prelude, <BR> which has helped tremendously. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I have basically given up at my current parish on = expec=3D ting much <BR> reverence <BR> (much less silence) during the prelude - our congregation, and to some = <BR> extent our pastors, see(s) this as community time and so you can pretty = muc=3D h <BR> forget about people not talking. &nbsp;Those that don't talk don't seem to = =3D have <BR> much effect on silencing those that do, in other words, the talkers don't = <=3D BR> seem to think it at all unusual to be gabbing away and have someone in the = =3D <BR> next pew sitting there reverently. &nbsp;This factor varies from service = to=3D <BR> service - our early service crowd, mostly older folks, are really pretty = <B=3D R> reverent - as the morning proceeds, the cacophony builds. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;A year ago, I visited the Vatican in Rome and got to = see=3D the Sistine <BR> Chapel <BR> - talking is not allowed - yet, there is a staff person on hand to <BR> periodically (every 2-3 minutes) say &quot;Silencio!&quot; because the = whis=3D pering <BR> builds and then turns to talking and must be suppressed - it seems to be a = =3D <BR> human trait to just never be capable of shutting up! &nbsp;I was very = distr=3D acted <BR> by this and ended up leaving - maybe I can visit there again when it's not = =3D <BR> the high tourist season.... <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I have come to believe that reverence is a learned = behav=3D ior that takes <BR> perhaps many years to learn, and some worshipers never are given an <BR> opportunity to learn it - therefore, you are going to beat yourself into = <B=3D R> frustration if you think you can demand silence and actually get it <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;We also encourage children to attend worship, and once = f=3D amilies are in <BR> there, it's hard to keep it down - and of course, the adults are generally = =3D <BR> making as much or more noise than the kids <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;During our evening Lenten services, we dim the lights, = u=3D se candles, <BR> block <BR> off one of the entrance doors, and post a sign that says &quot;Please keep = =3D <BR> silence as you enter the sanctuary&quot; - this has been partially = effectiv=3D e, and <BR> it is helpful if the music is already going when the congregation begins = to=3D <BR> be seated - it seems that whichever starts first, music vs. talking, will = <=3D BR> claim and retain the upper hand. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;One other solution that may work has been in practice = fo=3D r many years in <BR> the <BR> church of which I am a member: &nbsp;a Taize prayer service that begins 15 = =3D <BR> minutes prior to the start of the worship service. &nbsp;It sets a quiet = mo=3D od, <BR> and the congregation understands that if they enter the sanctuary, silence = =3D <BR> is expected - if they want to socialize they can go downstairs to the <BR> fellowship hall - we began this practice in 1992 and it has continued to = <B=3D R> this day - and I believe that this particular congregation does understand = =3D <BR> and appreciate reverence and silence. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Your idea about seating the choir before the prelude = is=3D a good one - I <BR> have <BR> used this practice from time to time, but I also have to swear my choir to = =3D <BR> silence and remind them that if one or two start talking, that's all it = <BR=3D > takes to break the meditative mood. <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Do you also print that the congregation should not = laug=3D h during prayer? <BR> If the prelude really gets to the congregation there is no need to ask = <BR> for silence. I had a congregation which was used to raise at the first = <BR> note of the postlude to storm out talking and laughing. I never requested = <=3D BR> that they wait for the postlude. However, it started that a few people <BR> stayed to listen; then an increasing number sat down to listen causing = <BR> the others to leave in silence and after a few months the whole = congregatio=3D n <BR> sat down after the benediction to listen to the postlude and to leave <BR> afterwards in silence: There was no organ play anymore to quench the = noise.=3D <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Silence seems to be more and more difficult for people = =3D these days. The <BR> whole world has attention deficit disorder, as far as I can see. And I = thin=3D k <BR> the idea behind Muzak has crept into the church---so that the prelude is = <B=3D R> just like what they play in the store while you're shopping. In fact, <BR> whenever my congregation shuts up for the prelude it gives me the creeps. = <=3D BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;One church I know of starts the service with the = acolyte=3D s (or anyone, <BR> for that matter), coming down the aisle with rainsticks. That sound = signals=3D <BR> to people that something is going to happen. It's a little earthy-crunchy = <=3D BR> granola for my Episcopal folks here in north Jersey, but maybe the folks = up=3D <BR> in your neck of the woods would dig it. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I like your suggestion of having the ushers greet = people=3D in a soft <BR> voice. &nbsp;<BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The other side of this is ~ the formality of church and = =3D the feigned <BR> piety is what has turned people off in the past. If people are quiet = becaus=3D e <BR> it's something they think they should be doing, then it's going to make = the=3D m <BR> think that church is the kind of place where they can't be themselves. And = =3D <BR> if the silence is not followed by something profound and meaningful from = th=3D e <BR> pulpit and musicians, they won't see any point to it. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I'd say if the feelings are good amongst the people, = it'=3D s not worth a <BR> big fight. <BR> Rest assured there's someone out there listening to your prelude! <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;I play in a temple, too. There's no tradition of = silence=3D before the <BR> service. What a din! <BR> <BR> * &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Over my many years in this position, we have tried = ever=3D ything you <BR> listed and have found that, without oral reminders almost weekly, none of = <=3D BR> them works. &nbsp;Our choir processes on the opening hymn. &nbsp;For = awhile=3D we tried <BR> having the minister give Opening Words (from the rear) ending with = &quot;..=3D ..and <BR> now our morning Prelude Music.&quot; &nbsp;This did necessitate beginning = t=3D he service <BR> 5-10 min. earlier, or ending later. &nbsp;The RE program had issues with = th=3D e <BR> timing. &nbsp;Another thing we have done is position the ushers in the = Nart=3D hex <BR> (vestibule), keeping the swinging doors closed after each entrant and that = =3D <BR> had the best chance of succeeding. &nbsp;However, some felt it was = 'unfrien=3D dly.' <BR> I find that the ushers themselves are often noisy and set the pattern of = <B=3D R> behavior. Isn't it amazing how most churches are caught in what is almost = a=3D <BR> cultural shift? &nbsp;We even have a Moment of Friendship buried within = the=3D <BR> service just after the children leave for class. &nbsp;But that does not = se=3D em to <BR> supplant &nbsp;<BR> the chance encounters as people arrive. <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;By the way, our building is a stone Gothic structure = (Ra=3D lph Adams Cram's <BR> last cathedral!) seating 400 easily, so the architecture supports = formality=3D <BR> and dignity and tradition. &nbsp;Even so ........ <BR> <BR> <BR> </TT> </BODY> </HTML>     --MS_Mac_OE_3117300813_2523617_MIME_Part--