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Then I Heard What Sounded Like a Great Multitude

Enjoy this brief (2:52) YouTube video example of healthy, robust congregational singing. Notice the absence of an amplified soloist. Notice how many people are holding hymnals. Notice husbands and wives sharing hymnals, singing together. Notice the number of men who are singing. Show me a parish where the men sing, and I’ll show you a parish that is alive with prayer and good works!

Notice in the video how the organ is used to build anticipation at the beginning of the hymn and establish a tempo for the congregation. Notice in the video that everyone instinctively knows when to sing, yet there is no amplified voice. Also, the organ has enough tonal resources and a trained organist who is able to use those resources leading a large group of people singing in a large room, all together at the same time. The people have learned to listen for cues from the organ.

Here’s something fun to do with this video… See if you can spot how many people are not singing? Also, notice the teenage boy (:31) sharing a hymnal with his mom and thinks nothing of it! Singing families are marks of a strong parish! Parents, let your children see and hear you singing! They will carry this memory with them their whole lives.

Here is a different YouTube video example from the Roman Catholic Kölner Dom, Cologne, Germany. Notice that after a miles-long procession, the people instinctively know when to begin singing without a mic’d voice. Everyone waits patiently while priests and altar servers take their place. This is part of the liturgy! You are part of this liturgy, active participation of a different kind – listening to the organ. Notice in the video the collective voice of the people in juxtaposition to the organ. This type of congregational singing should lead us to think, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” [Revelation 19:6] Be bold! Sing to the Lord!


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