Four-Part Harmony At Church Of Christ

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Singing is an integral part of the worship services at the Church of Christ. When members of the congregation raise their voices to sing praises to God, they sing in the style they believe God has commanded them to. There is no instrumental accompaniment. Hymns are sung a cappella, with four-part harmony. Anyone who wishes can participate, but the core group of singers practices weekly.

The Church of Christ follows the New Testament of the Bible. Members believe that although God had an agreement with mankind in the Old Testament, they do not live under those times anymore. A new agreement was made when Jesus came and they live under that contract. The new contract doesn't invalidate the old; its precepts are simply revisited by Jesus.

The commandment of God in Colossians 3:16 is, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."

Members at Church of Christ don't try to interject the social pressures of the day onto the word of God. They understand that they are not perfect and will make mistakes. The Bible is used to read what God has to say about a particular subject.

"If God commands us to do something, then we should do it that way," song leader Steve Christensen said. He said that instrumental music is not authorized in the New Testament so he said, "To introduce instruments is to add something that is not really there."

The emotional and jubilant American form of music known as gospel has its roots in the South. The music is thought to have evolved out of the call-and-response between a preacher and his congregation. The lyrics celebrate God's love, call for obedience to His word to attain the Kingdom of Heaven.

A group needs four vocal ranges to sing in four-part harmony -- bass, tenor, baritone and alto. At times the choral group will sing in unison. At times a specific vocal range will be set apart from the group, such as a distinctive bass in the song "Hide Me, Rock of Ages."

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The Church of Christ congregation loves to get together with other congregations for the joy of singing. The hymnal of choice for the Payson congregation is Sing out the Message, Songs of Faith and Praise.

When the rich textures of about 30 voices blend to fill the auditorium, one might not even realize there is no instrumental accompaniment.

Directing congregational singing is something one does if they have the desire and talent. Christensen is one of six rotating song leaders at the church. He leads the 5:30 p.m. song practices before the evening worship service on Sundays.

Earlier on Sundays, members sing to the residents of Powell House.

The new Church of Christ building on Tyler Parkway is a month from completion. The new auditorium is double the size of the present one.

"We had a sound expert come in. Right now, the acoustics look pretty good," said elder Charles Brown.

Members of the congregation have been doing as much of the work as they can to build their new church. They expect to hold services there on April 26. While they work, they sing.

Church of Christ is currently located at 509 W. Frontier St. in Payson. Sunday School is at 9:30 a.m. and worship services are at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. The phone number is (928) 474-5149.

This story is a another part of the Roundup's continuing series on how the churches in the Rim country add beauty and grace to our community.

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