The spiritual practice of song leading at Saint Lydia’s

Hello, Song Leaders!

As you go deeper into the practice of song leading, you may begin to see that song leading is a spiritual practice. Here is some of the thinking from which the Saint Lydia’s song-leading practice has emerged.

With the exception of our final hymn, all of the music that the congregation sings at a Saint Lydia’s service is sung without written music.  It’s paperless.  Why is that?

Among other things, paperless music . . .

allows everyone to sing with full confidence, especially those who don’t read music.

allows us to look up and see each other instead of looking down at a sheet of music.

By teaching the songs without written music, the Song Leader thus invites everyone into community. Thus, song leading becomes a powerful act of hospitality.

In addition to inviting all to sing, the Song Leader invites all to share authority.  You can think of it this way:

By stepping forward to sing, the Song Leader moves simply and whole-heartedly into leadership. As she courageously offers personal authority through bold gestures and clear singing, she is taking a risk for the sake of the group. She is making a gift to the group and inviting us to see how graceful community works.

The Song Leader listens well when leading and holds the group’s voice and learning lovingly.

The Song Leader listens and feels for the group’s readiness to take their own authority and moves to sharing the shaping of the music or, except when song leadership requires it (e.g. call and response) offers body language—stepping back into the larger circle of singers, for example—to express that the leader and the group are sharing authority.

A community where all are welcome and where authority is shared—that’s what Song Leaders us to become every time we sing.  It’s all communicated through eye contact and gesture, and it’s powerful stuff!

If you would like to know more about this kind of communal music making, talk to Rachel, Emily, or Jake.

You might also think about attending a Music That Makes Community workshop.  For more info, visit