Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord – Ephesians 5:19 KJV
Maybe you have struggled with leading worship in nursing home ministry or want to know how to include music as a way of getting started. In today’s post I’ll try to address some of the most frequently asked questions about music ministry at nursing home. First of all, don’t be discouraged, you are on the right track. Singing is so important that it is one of the few things we do on earth that we will still be doing in heaven. The key is finding ways, as today’s verse says, to include everyone in making melody in our hearts to Jesus. In other words, the best songs are the ones that everyone sings! There must always be a “We” in worship. Today I’ll cover three ideas that will help you to reach the goal of everyone singing (at least in their hearts!)
First, let’s begin my recognizing that voices of senior saints are not what they were in their twenties. But if George Beverly Shea and Burl Ives could record music into their 80’s and 90’s; there certainly is a way we can help our people participate and the first area to think about is what key we are playing the songs in. Hymn books were often written for much younger voices. Those original keys were great, but there is nothing wrong with singing Holy-Holy-Holy low enough so someone besides the cherubim and seraphim can join in!
A second consideration is that, not only our people’s voices, but also their ears have grown older. I happen to have an exceptionally loud voice (ask my wife!) and because of that I rarely use a microphone. But if you have a sound system available, please use it! If there is no microphone available, consider moving closer to your listeners. With my guitar I walk back and forth in the room, looking directly at my friends, so that they can all hear, and hearing helps them to keep up with where we are at in the lyrics.
Lastly let’s pay attention to rhythm. Remember that we have thirty minutes on a good day to keep people’s attention. Some people have medications that make them sleepy, or aches and pains that make it difficult to stay put for long. The last thing we want to do is incorporate so many slow dreamy sounding hymns, that half the audience falls asleep! I usually start out with familiar and easy songs such as “Just a Closer Walk”, so that as many people as possible join in. Then we usually pick up the pace a bit, with as many joyful songs as I have the energy for. Even Sunday school songs like, “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength” or “I’ve Got the Joy-Joy-Joy” work well. Just because they are older, doesn’t mean our friends won’t enjoy some fun and laughter. There will be plenty of problems ready to greet them after they leave our service. The idea of rhythm however is not just to sing fast songs. Oh no! The important thing is to give a variety. I always take a breath near the end of our time together, or just before communion and slip into the slower and more regal songs such as “The Old Rugged Cross”, “How Great Thou Art” or “In the Garden.” Now they are ready to focus, to pray and to allow God to speak His melody into their hearts.
If you have any questions, would like to make a comment or share your own experiences, this is the place to do that. There just may be someone else who needs to hear what you have to say! Here is just a sample from a recent meeting at Life Care Center. Have a blessed day all!