For my field report I attended some church services at Jonahville African Methodist Episcopalian Zion Church. The music experience there is very different than what I am used to. I attend a very traditional Episcopalian church back home in Texas. We have a strict order of service with all our hymns preplanned and posted in the service program. Our only instrument for most services is a large organ and our choir is very formal and consists of about ten people. Music does not play near as large of a role at my church. At Jonahville, a lot of the music appears impromptu, they have a three person band with a large choir, and music is extremely prominent.
Music plays a huge role at The Ville. It takes up more than half the over two hour service even. Songs of praise each lasts a good few minutes with some extending as long as people will keep singing or until the pastor cuts them off. The band consists of three members: a guitarist, a drummer, and a keyboardist. The choir seemed to grow as the service went on and swelled to over twenty people of all ages and genders at one point. As songs began to play the congregation would instantly recognize them and join in. They have hymnals at Jonahville but they are rarely picked up. Everyone just seems to know all the songs by heart. It would take me a few verses in before I would catch on to the words, but I would stand up and clap along regardless. Also people in the pews would stand to dance or raise their hands in praise as they pleased. There was no instruction to rise or sit for certain songs. Throughout the service, the energy was abundant and contagious all across the sanctuary. It was certainly hard for me to stand still during the worship.
Contrasting that with what I am used to made me wonder if there is some sort of middle ground offered. At my church, we sit and stand as directed (I call this pew aerobics) and read out of hymnbooks to sing. The music is very pleasant, but the energy and excitement feels rather low. At Jonahville, the music is blaring and everyone is up and moving for the vast majority of the songs. There is a certain excitement that comes with every song, but it can be a bit much for someone who is not used to taking part in that in the early hours of Sunday morning.