Worship and Music
Worship is a strength at UUCUC. We have been known for high quality sermons that engage us and challenge us to think, feel, believe and live better. Excellence in sermons and in worship generally has continued with both of our interim ministers. Lay-led worship is equally strong: our Worship Committee includes experienced lay worship leaders and often will recruit others from the congregation to speak or to help lead services. Attendance at lay-led services generally equals that of the regular services. Past Sermons can be found on our podcasts page (on uucuc.org).
Our music program is exceptionally strong, particularly for a church of our size. In part this is due to the proximity of the University of Illinois; our recent music directors, conductors and accompanists have commonly been graduate students or faculty in the School of Music. These musicians have over the years raised the level of our musical performances by setting expectations and helping the choir to meet them, attracting new singers to the choir, and facilitating other kinds of performances. We now have, besides the all-volunteer adult choir, a children’s choir, youth choir, a smaller (6-8 singers) adult group called the CrUUners that performs mostly jazz and show tunes, and musicians in the congregation who often perform for lay-led services. Coffeehouses are held typically twice per year, play to packed houses, and are limited to 12-15 acts so that they don’t go too late. Although most acts are musical, we also have stories, poetry, interactive performances and comedy skits.
Both our worship and our choir music tend to be fairly traditional. In most respects our worship services follow a typical Protestant model with hymns, meditations, readings, offertory and sermons, a choir anthem, and piano or organ prelude, postlude and interludes. We have experimented with other forms of worship and continue to do so. Worship Committee services in particular often feature 3-5 speakers, and we strive to hear new voices and include multiple generations. A notable service early in 2016 celebrated our Care Core and stories of how our community has come through and supported our members and friends in their times of need.
Much of what the choir sings is 19th century church music. Nevertheless, there is considerable variety and experimentation. In recent years, choir pieces have ranged from the 13th to the 21st centuries and been sung in English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian, Spanish and Lithuanian, and have included folk music, spirituals, show music, opera choruses and settings of poetry and contemporary texts. The choir brings in guest musicians for special performances, often around the holidays, so that we can hear (and participate in) great choral works being performed in our church.