You should write out and perhaps commit to memory what you are going to say to introduce this music to the assembly. Speak¬ing without a prepared text usually leads to rambling. Be concise. And always have your text in front of you -just in case.
Speak clearly and distinctly. If you are nervous, you will probably speak too quickly or too quietly. Fight these inclinations. Believe that what you have to say is important and convey that feeling to the assembly. Speak deliberately.
Your ability to use a microphone well is important. Practice beforehand, without the assembly present, to find the right distance from which to speak and to sing.
Generally, this is between six and twelve inches from the microphone, but will vary according to the type of microphone, the volume at which the microphone is set and the acoustics of the church. If you find that the microphone does not pick up your voice well enough from six inches away, do not move in closer to increase the volume.
This can jumble diction, compounding the problem. Instead, use your ability to project. Keep in mind that you are not speaking intimately to a single individual, but addressing a group of people.
When you are preparing to introduce or review music for the assembly before a liturgy, the piece itself and your method of introduction will help you determine what to say. For a short retrain it may be enough to have the instrumentalist(s) play the retrain, to sing it yourself, and then to have the assembly sing it. You might say something like this:
“Good morning. (pause) Today and in the coming weeks we will be singing a retrain that may be new to some of you. It can be found in . . . on page. . . . Please follow along as I sing through it and then repeat after me.”
After the assembly sings with you, you might continue with a statement of how or when the retrain will be used. Conclude with a simple “thank you.”
Reflection in Preparation
Sit down in your place. Close or lower your eyes and breathe deeply. Breathe slowly and rhythmically. Block out any distractions and focus on how you feel, physically and emotionally.
If there are any unpleasant feelings – tiredness, nervousness, concerns -let go of them by focusing on your breathing.
Next, focus on something uplifting. This might be a psalm or song from the days liturgy or a reflection on the love of God. If it helps you to think of a specific prayer, savor each word and phrase. Otherwise, simply pray in whatever way is yours. Reflect on why you are there and what it means to serve.
Come back to the present by becoming aware of the assembly. Look around you. Know that these people, yourself included, are the body of Christ, the church, met here to give thanks and praise and to be fed by Gods word and the holy communion.
A good resource for this time of prayer is the book Prayers of Those Who Make Music (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1984). It can easily be tucked into a purse or pocket, making it readily available for personal reflection or shared prayer.