Depending on your church’s order of service, you (the church accompanist) might play for about twenty minutes, or at least sit at the piano for that long. When you leave the piano for the message, you might only have to play again for the invitation.
In our church, the offering occurs at the end of the service. This week is my turn to play the offertory, and I have been requested to play a “big” song. Last night, I went to our church auditorium and practiced on the grand piano. I wanted to get a realistic feel of the sound quality, so I turned on the sound system. Wow, it was loud (which was good)! My overall practice lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. During that time, I practiced my offertory at least ten times (sorry, I did not keep count). The first several times were horrible! My hands were cold, my reactions were slow and my head was pounding.
I took a break from that song and played some other songs for fun. Then I came back to the offertory and played it again. Finally, it sounded decent! Some spots were still shaky, so I singled out those areas and worked out the kinks. I played the song a couple more times until I felt very confident with the results.
As church accompanists, we play for many elements in the service – preludes, choir, hymns, special music, and offertories. All elements have importance to the service. With the offering at the end of the service, this is the last music the congregation will hear before leaving. My responsibility is to leave them with a positive reflection of the service. Therefore, I need to have the endurance to give it my best for every element – especially the offertory!
Of course, I cannot accomplish this on my own. The Lord gives me the strength and ability to play every Sunday. Everything I do is for His glory. I am prepared as much as possible; now I just have to rely on Him and enjoy the song!