As to Vested Choirs

What position does the denomination take in regard to the wearing of robes by members of the church choir?

C. L. BOND. [Associate Secretary, M. V. Department.]

Our denomination has never, by General Conference action, taken a definite stand regarding the question of vested choirs, though the choir at the last General Conference ses­sion was robed. Many of our churches and institutions have vested choirs, and their course is believed to be consistent with the principles laid down in the Bible. God is a God of order, and anything which tends to increase order, reverence, and the spirit of de­votion in the house of God is surely legitimate.

When David brought the ark from the home of Obed-edom to the city of Jerusalem, the singers wore distinctive robes. In i Chronicles 15 :27 it is recorded as follows: "David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen."

In the scriptures following this, many refer­ences are made to the policy laid down at that time; and often as one reads the records per­taining to the conduct of religious service, the expression, "as David instructed Israel," is found. It is apparent in many of these in­stances that David's policy of vested choirs as followed at the time of the removal of the ark from Obed-edom's home was followed. At the time of the dedication of Solomon's temple, the same plan was adopted. In 2 Chronicles 5:12, 13, we have this interest­ing account:

"Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them a hun­dred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets. It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and in­struments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth forever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord."

Singing is as much a part of the religious . service as the sermon. It is just as proper to make careful selection of singers and their dress and the type of music, as it is for the minister to give careful consideration to the sermon or any other feature of the service.

The objection to the wearing of robes in the minds of some is, no doubt, due to their fear that the adoption of this uniform vestment would indicate a drift toward the world. However; this is scarcely sound reasoning, for if one's tendency were toward the world, it would doubtless be more clearly indicated by following the fashions in personal attire and spirit. The determining factor is, therefore, the consecration and devotion of the members of the choir. If their hearts are right, it will be manifested in their dress, words, and acts, whether or not choir robes are Worn.

The wearing of robes by a choir has the advantage of uniformity, simplicity, and or­derly appearance, all of which makes the plan desirable. In every case, however, robes worn by choirs in our churches should be simply made. They should not in any respect pattern after the elaborate gowns worn by choirs in some of the popular churches. In some of our churches where choirs are vested, neat black robes with white collars are provided for men and women alike. In others, black robes are worn by the men, and white by the women. More often, however, the women wear a neat black robe with a plain white collar, and the men wear their civilian clothing of dark ma­terial.

It is not possible for all the members of the choir to have dark clothes. Some of them do not ordinarily choose that color for their wear­ing apparel, and they are not financially situated so that they can supply themselves with the necessary change. By providing robes for the members of the choir, the church can share in the purchase price. The material used may be inexpensive and yet attractive. The choir may thus be enabled to present a dignified appearance and thus contribute to the order and reverence of the church service.

When once a church becomes accustomed to a vested choir, the attention of the congrega­tion is not then centered upon the dress and the various colors of clothing otherwise dis­played by the choir. These variations in them­selves may be perfectly proper individually, but when assembled they have a distracting effect upon members of the audience.

However, in spite of all that might be said in favor of a vested choir, if the wearing of robes were to bring an inharmonious spirit into the church, then surely the choir has destroyed the very thing for which it was instituted. Therefore, where there is serious question in the minds of church members with regard to the wearing of robes, it would be better for the choir members to wear their usual Sabbath clothes, selecting those garments which would in every way be in keeping with the spirit of reverence and modesty; thereby helping to bring in and maintain a spirit of harmony among all of the members of the church.                                                

C. L. BOND. 

[Associate Secretary, M. V. Department.]

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C. L. BOND. [Associate Secretary, M. V. Department.]

December 1938

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