Praise God By Joining Our Virtual Ensemble

By Christopher Wells, Director of Music & Organist

Have you seen these split-pane videos showing up in your social media? Maybe you’ve seen CCC’s own Virtual Recordings on YouTube, or maybe you saw Nate Bell, a 12-year-old from our church participating in The Episcopal Church’s Easter Day Virtual Choir (see 1’45”, leftmost column, second from top)! 

Multi-track recording is a concept that began in the 1950s that revolutionized the recording industry. By the 1960s, most ensembles including The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and everyone from Motown were using multitrack recording. In 2010, Eric Whitacre made famous and coined the term “Virtual Choir” in his groundbreaking production of Lux Aurumque featuring 185 singers from 12 countries around the world. 

Fast forward to 2020 … when so many people are confined at home in quarantine, we have the human desire to connect, to do something together, and as it pertains to our God – we still want to praise her together. AND, almost everyone has the ability and tools to do this from home! You’ll need to be able to sing a hymn or play some very basic notes on your instrument of choice. You’ll also need a computer, a smartphone, and headphones. Your musical skill does not need to be of a professional level — hymns are intended to be sung and played by EVERYONE! Your recording equipment does not need to be studio quality — most people record with their iPhone or Android device. 

Is it “real” or “virtual”? I think the answer is YES! (It is both!) Are people really making music?  Yes, individually; and the individual tracks are assembled into one production.  Are people making music together in real time? Absolutely not, and nothing will ever replace that very special aspect of music which is immediately gratifying and enjoyable. In the “virtual” experience, much of the reward comes days or weeks later when the project is finally assembled.

So why make virtual recordings, and is it worth it? Based purely on YouTube analytics, our last virtual recording received the most views of ANY Christ Church Cranbrook production. I would argue that it IS worth it, not simply based on internet metrics, but balanced with the other worthwhile opportunities we have in quarantine time. And I would argue that, in addition to other noble Christian acts of service, this is an exercise many will be called to do. In this production it matters not how skilled you are, yet matters greatly that you will make this offering alongside your fellow parishioners and that in this ministry you are finding joy, meeting Jesus, sharing beauty, and serving others. These are our goals in non-COVID-19 time; why not make them our goals today?

Blessings to each of you!


To Get Involved:

  • Instructions can be found here.
  • Remember to submit your final recording by Monday May 4.
  • Email me if you have any questions or need help troubleshooting an issue.


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