In the Minneapolis Airport there is a poster showing a picture of Daniel in the Lion’s Den surrounded by hungry but slightly confused looking lions. The caption is: “We in the 21st Century are not the first people to feel stressed.”
Today in church music we find ourselves in a situation that is not much different than it was centuries ago. We are not the first people to feel that there is not enough support to continue a fine music program/ministry.
The Hymn-A-Thon is such a great idea, I wish it were mine, but it’s not. It has been done before. However the purpose behind the Hymn-a-thon at our church is what is different from some others. Being a small parish, we as many, due to limited financial resources were faced with drastically cutting back the music ministry. However, whether you are in a large or small parish, there is a core of people who really believe the music ministry is very important and want to see it continue. It is their belief that music helps people worship and become closer to God.
Before you give up and think that your church is too small or too something else to attempt a Hymn-a-thon, let’s look at this idea more carefully.
First, let’s talk about patrons for a moment.
The term “patron” goes back to the medieval ages and through the Renaissance, feudal Japan, Southeast Asian Kingdoms, Aristocracy and right through to March 6, 2014. Patrons were the people and institutions that helped move the arts forward for present and future generations to enjoy and in which to participate. Patrons of the arts as were important in the early ages just as they are today.
Thanks to organizations like crowdfunding or crowdsourcing, the definition of who patrons are has expanded. Patronage is no longer just for the very wealthy, but for anyone who is interested in helping support a worthy project.
Instead of giving up and asking, “Why is this happening? Why is our Music Ministry being cut?” say instead, “Our Music Ministry is too important to let go, so what we are going to do about it?” That was the impetus the musicians of St. Bede had to start thinking about what could be done to mitigate the cuts proposed to their music ministry.
One Sunday morning, a choir member showed up with a newspaper article about a Hymn-A-Thon Trinity Cathedral in Portland had recently done. Their event raised funds to support their choir’s upcoming English tour. We thought, “well, we wouldn’t be raising funds for a tour, but a Hymn-A-Thon could work equally well to raise funds to further our small parish music ministry.” Three weeks later, on the date we had chosen to “make something” happen, we held our own St. Bede Hymn-A-Thon.
What might surprise you is the number of people who really do believe in what you are doing. We can become myopic (see paranoid) in our vision and think that people are not interested in maintaining or furthering excellence in church music. However, as we found, there are a great number of people who respect and value the traditions of the past and want to sustain them for the future.