One of the joys of Easter: a full sanctuary singing

As someone who enjoys music, is a musician, and likes some large collective activities, part of the joy of Easter is having a full sanctuary with people singing.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

This level of congregational singing does not happen every week. Our church is full on Easter. The songs are familiar. Many people arrived early and the level of conversation beforehand was high.

Sure, this musical experience might be replicable elsewhere, such as at a club where everyone is dancing and singing along with popular songs or being in that right place with the right music that gives you goosebumps. But, this is a different experience. It is the Christian holiday on the calendar. It is an annual ritual. It is happening in a building intended to direct people’s attention toward worship. And people are singing, not just attending a loud performance.

“Russian Easter Festival Overture” by Rimsky-Korsakov

The “Russian Easter Festival Overture” by Rimsky-Korsakov suggests Easter celebrations can be both ethereal and boisterous. Watch and listen here.

I first heard this a few years ago when at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to hear Dvorak’s 9th Symphony. I know, this symphony is a war horse but Dvorak is my favorite composer and the Overture was one of the first half pieces. I immediately had to go out and purchase it.

Sociologist: seasonal or occasional church attenders will decide the fate of organized religion in Canada

A Canadian sociologist argues that the fate of organized religion in Canada will be decided those who attend church occasionally:

Indeed, a new report finds rumours of the death of religion have been greatly exaggerated, with national data suggesting about 12 million Canadians will attend church this long weekend. And it’s the unfamiliar faces — the 30 per cent who attend either monthly or seasonally — who will have the biggest influence on organized religion going forward, according to Reginald Bibby, a University of Lethbridge sociologist.

“Numerically-speaking, they will determine who constitutes a majority: people who embrace faith, or those who reject it,” said Bibby, who’s been studying religious trends since the mid-1970s.

“At this point in time, about 60 per cent say they’re open to greater involvement if they can find it worthwhile for themselves and their families. Which direction they go will depend largely on whether or not religious groups can demonstrate the value of greater involvement.”

National data, released by Statistics Canada’s general social survey and analyzed by Bibby, suggests the core 20 per cent of weekly church attendees will be joined this Easter by many of the 10 per cent of monthly attendees and a good number of the 20 per cent of seasonal attendees.

Interesting argument: these occasional attendees are like swing voters, capable of creating a majority if they continue to attend occasionally. Presumably, if this group stopped attending at all, religion could lose some social influence.

I’m intrigued by this statement: the “direction they go will depend largely on whether or not religious groups can demonstrate the value of greater involvement.” Are religious groups prepared to tackle this question? Which church approach works the best in addressing this group of occasional attendees.

How much does this describe the situation in the United States? Depending on what figures you look at, roughly 30-40% of Americans regularly attend church even as many more claim to be “spiritual” or “believe in God.” Generally, how willing are non-church attending yet spiritual Americans willing to talk about and/or defend religion in the public sphere?