Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
Verses like these in the book of the Psalms give us clear instructions on how God wants to be praised. When we think of praise and worship we often conjure up images of robed choirs singing in harmony, quartets in tailored suits, soloist vocalizing like angels, or even praise dancers using their bodies to exalt the Lord.
Most people love the balanced and harmonious sounds of a good choir. Many people however fail to realize that a good choir, and all the things that go with it, don’t just happen. There is a lot of planning, practice, patience and preparation that goes on behind the scenes; each word, note, tune, and tone is meticulously taught by a choir director.
Here in Baltimore, the Church of God in Christ (also known as COGIC) is one of the fastest growing denominations and COGIC is known for producing some of the greatest talents in gospel history including the Clark Sisters and Judith Christie McAllister. The greater Baltimore area is known as the T.R. Young district of COGIC and is blessed to have a dynamic and anointed district choir director. I was excited and honored recently to be able to sit and talk with the district choir director LaShawn Jennings.
BC: First things first Sis. How did you get into music and directing?
LJ: Well I have been in music ministry since the age of 13. I always liked to sing but I was never really interested in directing. This ministry was something I grew into rather than aspired to.
BC: How did you finally make that leap into directing?
LJ: I began to change. The Lord changed me and even though I had been in church since I was a child I did not truly get saved until I was about 20 years old. After I received the Holy Ghost in 1999 I began to learn how to listen to the Lord and receive His wisdom. After I allowed Him to minister to me I began to be open to minister to others. Music is a ministry and to direct is the opportunity to take that ministry further.
BC: Were you nervous about taking the lead in such an important ministry?
LJ: Girl I was terrified! (laughing) I was sure of God but unsure of myself. Directing is more than just waving your hands in front of a group of singers. I knew I could do it but I just needed more confidence. You must teach melodies, harmonies, unity, listening skills, and much more. I was always worried that I wouldn’t be able to comprehend the music in order to teach it but with time, practice and the leading of the Spirit I am able to do it and do it well.
BC: When people come to church they are there for the word of God – the sermon. Why is music so important?
LJ: Music ushers in the presence of the Lord. It opens the heart, the mind, and the spirit to hear the Word of God. Music allows a person to release him or herself into the very nature of God.
BC: Do you have a favorite song to teach and direct?
LJ: If I could only choose one it would have to be How Great Is Our God.
BC: Why that one?
LJ: It shows me that our God is not a just-for-me God or a just-for-you God. He is a great God, a big God, an awesome God, and a God so magnificent that truly every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess.
BC: You ready to shout?
LJ: When I think about how great my God is? YES!
You can worship with LaShawn and her anointed choir every Sunday @ 11am.
Antioch Church of God in Christ
1429 Church Street
Curtis Bay, MD 21227
Lionell Shields, Pastor
Peace and Blessings