Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Singing the Women's Part

I had a new experience today in chapel. We sang one of those songs where the guys and girls split, singing completely different lyrics and melodies, for much of the song. Neither part is really the lead--we just take turns with who sings what. I have always sung that song either led by no one, or led by a man who naturally sings the guys' part, leaving the women in the congregation to band together from our seats and hope we come in at the right time and can hear each other well enough to carry the tune correctly. This morning, however, the worship leader was a woman. And for the first time in my life on a song that split like that, I sang with the worship leader the entire time and sang the girls' part the entire time.

There are other songs where the women's part leads and the men echo, and I've usually seen the male song leader sing the female part along with the women. Which kind of makes sense but also sounds a little weird.

Now, I have nothing against men or male worship leaders. But my experience this morning in chapel was refreshing--and kind of validating! This once, I wasn't just singing the extra part that wasn't important enough to have a worship leader, and I wasn't singing the women's part that still had to be led by a man so the song wouldn't fall apart.


  1. I was thinking the very same thing as we were singing that song! It was actually even confusing. Though I knew how the song is supposed to be sung, I almost didn't know what to do when actually singing it because it was so very different from how I've always heard it. It's interesting (and funny and exiting and sad all at the same time) that such a small thing can elicit such a response in our hearts and minds as women in a historically male-dominated tradition. I hope you'll continue to share this with people.

  2. Glad to excite and confuse! The whole experience did the same for me.

  3. Thanks, ladies (comments make me unbelievably happy)!

    Laura, I told Mollie this already, but I was half expecting her to sing the guys' part. And then I realized how absurd that was. But it's just so ingrained in me that the worship leader sings the part that I'm not singing. It was such a weird--and wonderful--experience!

    Mollie, all this to say, you should lead split-part songs more often. :)

  4. Karissa, I half expected that too! But then I thought through just how "odd" it would be to hear a woman's voice leading the men instead of singing with the women. Which led me, not surprisingly, to question why I don't find it odd when I (constantly!) hear a man's voice leading the women. Years and years of habituation instantly upended by one wonderful experience... Thanks, Mollie!