Spreading joy in music

Local churches use the power of song in worship services


In most Christian churches, music is an important part of worship — it can help form a great connection between the congregation and the Lord.

One reason for that is to be joyful, said Sue Singleton, music committee moderator at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

“We want to be joyful,” she said, “and praise the Lord through joy.”

When there’s music involved, Singleton said, “people feel God’s presence, both through listening and participation.”

The Bible is full of praising through music, song and dance. It’s an integral part, Singleton said. “And it has been throughout the years.”

A time-honored format

Since its founding in England, music has always been a part of the Episcopal Church, said Dennis Van Patter, the principal organist and choral director at Calvary Episcopal Church in Golden.

And at Calvary, “it’s very much alive and well,” he added. The church offers two musical formats every Sunday — traditional and contemporary. Both are popular among the congregations, Van Patter said.

“The spoken liturgy is the same,” Van Patter said, “but it’s the music that’s different.”

In the historic church, the word traditional is “very much” upheld, he said. “It’s a time-honored format that really speaks to some people.”

The historic church strives to offer traditional episcopal worship utilizing traditional music, Van Patter said. The music is very worshipful, but also very congregational.

The organ music provides an atmosphere where people can kneel or sit in prayer and center themselves for worship. And another big part is congregational singing, Van Patter said.

Hymns at Calvary are sung from the 1982 episcopal hymnal, and Van Patter said he tries to choose hymns that people are familiar with. But, he added, “one way to go from unfamiliar to familiar is to sing it.”


Relationships can form among people in a denomination, said Dr. Michael McBride, interim choir director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. He said being involved with the church’s music is an avenue for those relationships.

In general, a choir “is a group of people who enjoy being together and love making music together,” he said. Choir members enjoy the company of others, and singing.

And, being a part of a choir allows people to express themselves, McBride said.

Westminster Presbyterian Church has two separate choirs, Singleton said — the chancel choir and the jubilation bell choir. The chancel choir sings every week during the school year, and the bell choir rings in church service once a month. In the summer, special music is provided during service, Singleton said. Special music can include a soloist, duet, quartet or instrumentalist, among others.

The bell choir always puts a smile on peoples’ faces, McBride said. They enjoy hearing the uniqueness of it, and “watching them ring is a visual experience.”

However, McBride added, the key is to assist in worship, versus being entertainment.

The group “tries to find something that establishes a mood or melody that people can recognize and that can relate to the service,” McBride added.

Where people can find community

At Flatirons Community Church’s West Campus, located in Golden off Genesee Trail Road, a typical service lasts about an hour and will include about 15-20 minutes of music.

“We sing songs all about who God is and what he has done for us through Jesus,” said Luke Burgett, the West Campus worship pastor.

Music is provided by a live band that includes an acoustic guitar, two electric guitars, a drummer, bassist, keyboardist and a group of vocalists. The music is contemporary and includes modern worship music, original songs and covers of mainstream popular music, Burgett said.

Some people want to sing out loud, and others prefer to listen and read along to the words projected on the screen, he said.

Either way, “we want to create an environment where people feel comfortable participating however they want to,” Burgett said. “Something happens when everybody is doing something together.”

Typically, there are three categories of life experiences the chosen music tries to cater to, Burgett said. Those include people who are experiencing hard times, people who have reason to celebrate and thank God with a grateful heart and those who are in a time of needing encouragement.

“The goal is to reach anybody sitting in our service, no matter what they’re experiencing in life,” Burgett said. “The worship team is there to meet people where they’re at.”

The power of music

Music service in the great hall of the Calvary Episcopal Church in Golden is what Daniel Coffey, the church’s pastor for youth and young adults, refers to as blended because it incorporates older, traditional hymns as well as newer worship music.

It includes a broad range of musical styles that “brings people together from all different generations,” Coffey said. “We aim to make it as inclusive as possible.”

People can connect to all different types of music, he said. “There’s something powerful about music.”

Adding music to the words of God adds a “whole different dimension,” Coffey said.

Together, it can create a space and environment for people to enter in together, he said. And “that is a beautiful thing.”


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