Music In Anchorage Churches: Interview #1 Peggy McBride of First Congregational

Why Write About Church Music?
In visiting Anchorage churches, I’ve experienced virtually every type of church musical style. Part of the time the music accentuates the spiritual tenor of the service, and sometimes not. Sometimes the music is unadulterated Pop 40 entertainment, and narcissistic with no reference to God, salvation, or the mission of the church. You, the reader of this blog, have also sent me many emails complaining about the music you hear in your churches. I’ve asked a number of musical directors of churches in town share their thoughts about music as used in worship. I’ll be sharing these interviews, every other week, for some time to come.
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Interview 1 – Peggy McBride
Peggy is an extremely talented musical figure in Anchorage. She teaches music at Ptarmigan Elementary School. As a Certified Master Director in Sweet Adelines International, she is currently Co-Director of the award winning, Alaska Sound Celebration Chorus. If that is not enough, she is the musical director at First Congregational Church.

Chris: Musical styles are exploding in our churches. Some use music to draw different groups of “seekers” to services, while others use it in support of the liturgy. What do you believe the true role of music should be in today’s church service?
Peggy: I believe that music is its own ministry within the church service. It should be used to strengthen and support the liturgy as well as celebrate the spirit. At times it is difficult to make the musical choices always fit with the liturgical message. In my church the liturgical message is not decided upon with enough time to choose music that supports it. I often choose pieces of music that fits the liturgical calendar but that does not mean it always supports the ministerial message. So when you ask about the “true role” of music I think in the ideal situation it is melded with the church service that supports the liturgical message, celebrates the spirit and ministers to the soul.

Chris: Do you think music should be used as a persuasion device to connect people to God?
Peggy: Music is the great communicator that connects, reminds, celebrates and encourages the spirit of the Lord. So yes it definitely connects people to God.

Chris: What is your greatest challenge with the role of music in your church?
Peggy: The greatest challenge of music in my church is maintaining a church choir population. So many things are out there that takes up their time. Keeping the music at a high level that motivates our singers and makes them want to come out and practice on a week night when they may just want to stay home is a tough job.

Chris: What is your greatest joy associated with the role of music in your church?
Peggy: My greatest joy is after working on a musical piece and then performing it in the service and you feel the spirit of the Lord move through the music and touch the members of the congregation. That Rocks!

Chris: What will church music be like in 10 years?
Peggy: I believe that church music will continue to have many different styles and expressions. There will be more and more praise and contemporary music coming into our services. As a choir director I will always want to use all different types of musical styles to get the different messages of God’s love and joy out. There is strength in the traditional and classical styles that I will always put into my musical ministry. However there is more out there and in the future I feel more styles will be represented throughout the calendar year.

Chris: What is your favorite Christian musical piece?
Peggy:Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

Chris: Who is your favorite musical composer?
Peggy:I have two: George Fredric Handel and Gabriel Faure.

Chris: Who is your favorite contemporary Christian composer?
Peggy:Jeff Lippencott

Chris: Who is your favorite Christian artist?
Peggy:I still love Amy Grant.

Chris: Thank you for sharing your Christian musical perspectives Peggy.

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