Thursday, June 4, 2009

In Chapel Choirs Men are the Majority


At first glance, chapel choirs look and sound like their civilian counterparts—except they are several octaves lower. Women are the majority in churches and choirs everywhere reflect that. But in the chapel choirs, we see all the variety of the civilian world, with men doing most of the singing.

At Fort Sill, the choir in the Anthrax Chapel for the protestant service was one young lieutenant with a guitar who sang a solo every week and provided the music for the hymns.

In Tallil, every faith community has a choir and they are as different as the denominations they represent. At the Sunday evening Catholic service, the choir was three men, one with a guitar, leading the singing for a service with almost 100 soldiers. At the contemporary Protestant service in the Air Force area, they had a 6-member choir with a keyboard and several other instruments and PowerPoint Hymns for a congregation of 25.

The traditional Protestant service in the Army chapel had a keyboard player and three singers and also had hymns on PowerPoint on a screen. The Sunday afternoon and evening Gospel services are the choir showstoppers. They have 30 men and 10 women backed up by a half-dozen drums and other instruments in front of a congregation of more than 100. A mostly male Gospel choir sounds like any other Gospel choir until they crescendo at the end of a song. Thirty male voices almost shouting shakes the walls of low, concrete Adder Chapel. In addition to the drums, clapping and singing of the main Gospel choir, the same group has a dance choir that performs at the beginning of the service. This choir is mostly women in black costumes with white gloves dancing to Gospel music and performing passages of Scripture.

One other thing that happens to those who attend multiple services at the Chapel is that all services are held in the same rooms at different times. So one week I heard the Gospel choir raise the roof and the next week listened to the three-man choir at the Catholic service in the very same room. It would certainly save Churches in America a lot of money of they had every Church in the neighborhood meet in one building at different times.

I hadn’t thought until this moment that I have gone from Anthrax to Adder, a deadly disease to a deadly snake. Army chapels may have good choirs, but they need help with their names.

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