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No choir? No organ? No problem. Churches turn to karaoke

An electronic church music player is proving a hit with Anglican vicars and congregations.

  • John Bingham
  • United Kingdom
  • January 29, 2013
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A new range of electronic “hymnals”, adapting music systems for ecclesiastical purposes, have proved an unexpected hit with priests and vicars.

Controlled from a small screen in the pulpit or lectern, it provides backing music for congregations while projecting the lyrics onto walls - with the words appearing in time with the music just like in karaoke systems.

Clergy programme in their “play list” for each service in advance, choosing from a “repertoire” includes the full Anglican hymn book and favourites from the BBC’s Songs of Praise.

As well as traditional pipe organ and choral sounds it can switch to more unlikely offerings such as a Caribbean calypso style.

Based on a system first used in America, the “Hymnal Plus” has proved an unexpected hit in the UK with a few thousands systems already sold to churches as well as military chapels, crematoria and even cruise ships.

It featured at one of Britain’s most unusual trade fairs, the Christian Resources Exhibition, held in Bristol last week, exhibiting everything from designer cassocks and mitres to solar-powered church noticeboards and gas-fuelled lecterns.

Martyn Phelps, director of the Surrey based company Hymn Technology, said vicars had written to him saying it had helped revive flagging congregations.

“Once the congregation get used to it they become very comfortable and sing much better," he said.

“I recently had a letter from a priest saying ‘my congregation has doubled since they had the Hymnal.”

While intended for parishes unable to afford a regular organist and choirmaster, it has also played an unexpected role in parish politics.

“I know one vicar who got one because the organist refused to play certain things,” Mr Phelps explained.

“Like a lot of vicars, there is a permanent war with the organist, he feels completely liberated by it.”

Full Story: Karaoke is music to ears of long-suffering vicars 

Source: The Telegraph

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