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What is a Lay Worship Leader?

'Disambiguation' or a Question of Semantics

The term 'worship leader' has recently come to mean, in one wing of the Anglican/Episcopalian Church, someone who leads the congregation in singing. In more traditional churches, this role would be filled by someone called the choirmaster. The difficulty is that a choirmaster could be understood only to be responsible for the choir, hence presumably the co-opting of the term 'worship leader'. However, this is unhelpful for the useful discussion of worship in general since it leaves no word to describe worship as a whole.

At Lay Anglicana, therefore, we use the term 'worship leader' to refer to the person who leads the congregation in its devotions as a whole. If the 'worship leaders' responsible for leading the music want to discuss the music, they are welcome to start a thread in the discussion forum specifically for this.

Just as an observation, the relationship between the person leading the service and the organist/ choirmaster/person leading the music has often tended to be tricky, as Thomas Hardy recognised in his poem The Choirmaster's Burial: We leave it to you to decide who had the last word on that occasion.

The term could also, in theory, include Licensed Lay Ministers (who used to be called Lay Readers: the name change was recommended in a report of 2008). As stated elsewhere, Licensed Lay Ministers are in a rather different position as they are trained to a higher standard and allowed to minister at a different level.

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