Praise and Worship, a phrase which means a lot to church services today,has taken a very important slot at weddings, conferences, conventions,meetings etc. Praise and worship, is nothing but singing praises to God with simple words and music, as compared to Hymns which have a more complicated language and are mostly played in a classical style. A lot of people over the last couple of years have started connecting to praise and worship with music more easily. This form of worship has touched their soul straight away.

This trend has caught on in a lot of new age churches, but has some resistance in the older traditional churches. It has been attracting a lot of people, both young and old, the larger ratio comprising of the younger generation.

It was in the year 2000, when the then Pastor, Rev. Selwyn, observing the trend of Praise and Worship catching on, approached me to start chorus singing. He wanted to bring about a variation in the Sunday worship. I brought my guitar and started singing all alone. Initially, it did go off well, as many people who had seen this form of worship in other places were very pleased that it had begun at our church too. They would meet me and give me their requests. As time went by, on the other hand, a few members felt that the service was getting longer because of this new addition. So Rev. Selwyn asked me if I could start it at 8.45 am and finish before the service commenced at 9.00am. Then, it so happened that there were only the Goodwill’s School Hostel girls who were present at that time. The others who liked chorus singing couldn’t make it earlier. Personally, I have always believed that chorus singing should not be done as a filler, but should and must be given proper reverence. Unfortunately, it gradually stopped.

Years later, Rev. Victor Joshua had the same vision, to having chorus singing as a part of the service. He asked me if I would revive it again. Having shifted back to Cox Town, after being away a few years in Koramangala, I was thrilled to do so and knew I would always be there on Sunday. Rev. Victor Joshua got a few chorus books printed, but they were not enough for the entire congregation. This time around, Praise and Worship really got a lot of people to start enjoying the singing and I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, as the congregation would get so involved in the songs.

Rev. Prem Mitra, was appointed as the next presbyter-in-charge. He was responsible for starting Praise and Worship at his earlier church, Kothanur CSI Church. He has even introduced this form of worship in St. Andrew’s now. With his passion for Praise and Worship, he wanted to take this a step further, to a completely higher level. He did a great deal by encouraging us to form a band to play along with the singing.

My son, Aashish Paul, used to accompany me on his drums. Pradyun Manoj, who was then in the 8th standard, was learning to play the keyboard. He loved these songs very much and even today you can see him enjoying every note he plays. Milind Yohann, was just learning the guitar then and playing bass was very new to him. He immediately started enjoying his role in the band. So then, I started playing my electric guitar rather than the acoustic which I played earlier. Bindu, my wife, a talented singer and music teacher, also joined in. She started leading the singing and Rev. Prem Mitra would sing from the altar. Shwetha Elisha would sometimes play the flute as well as sing along with us.

We believe that practice makes perfect and we also believe that we have to give of our best to God. Practices for the Sunday service are held on Saturday and we spend hours jamming together until we are reminded by parents that it is almost dinner time! When Rev. Mitra was around, many a time he would pick up a guitar and play along with the band. We got to know from some of the parents themselves that their child’s interest towards the band was so much that it was occasionally used as a threat. If they didn’t do their homework, they won’t play on Sunday! Worse than that was not being able to make it to practice on Saturday. Believe it or not, till date these guys have always made it to church, and not to mention ontime! They have missed our worship sessions only when there has been a really valid reason.

The congregation appreciated this more wholesome group as we made a joyful noise unto our Lord. ‘Noise’ in the true sense of the word was what some felt! Slowly the feedback began to pour in : the drums were found to be too loud, however softly it was played. This being the most frequent complaint, Rev. Mitra put it forward to the Pastorate Committee to buy a drum pad within a reasonable budget. The drum pad was bought. The rest of the instruments that we used week after week, were borrowed and we waited patiently for the church to buy new ones.

Rev. Florence Deenadayalan took charge of the church a couple of years ago. She instantly liked the Praise and Worship and was inspired to watch the children play. She made the Pastorate Committee purchase 2 guitars for the band and later even a stage amplifier. Rev. Jebraj joined the team and introduced and taught us a lot of vernacular songs. This made a special impact on the congregation and gave a new challenge to the band. Today Mrs. Ajitha Samuel is our latest inclusion. She sings with Bindu and harmonises beautifully. Another recent addition to the band in terms of instrumentalists, is Prem Sharma, who plays the drums. He used to sing earlier, until he decided that he cracked! (his voice, I mean and I truly hope!). Aashish and Pradyun take turns to play or sing, as the need arises.

Even today, these 3 young boys are one of the best bands I have played with. I put on record at this time their hard work, maturity in music, interest and above all, their commitment to the Church. I will always treasure the wonderful moments I have spent with each of them. May they shine and bring more glory to this church and God and continue to serve Him with their musical talents. It is also my prayer that they continue this legacy and pass on to the next generation, what they have been blessed with.

I thank our God Almighty for having bestowed me and my family with the talent of music. He has chosen us to be where we are and we ask for His continuous guidance as we lead in Praise and Worship here at Wesley. On behalf of the whole team I would like to thank the congregation for their support. I sincerely hope and pray that this form of worship will always continue and more and more people feel the power of Praise and Worship. As a team, we have had a few hiccups now and then. But God has been good! I am reminded of the song: ‘God is good, all the time!’ We are grateful to Him for picking us up and enabling us to move on, only reassuring us that what we are doing is pleasing in His sight.

Musicians and singers may change, but Praise and Worship shall live on.!!!