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praise the Lord with joyful cry

In the battle against the devil having all the good tunes, churches are turning to karaoke.

Instead of an organist, the vicar can produce quality sounds from a bit of kit called an electronic hymnal, neatly secreted in the pulpit. It can be programmed to deliver the greatest hits from Songs of Praise to a disco version of Amazing Grace.

I'd definitely pop in for a rap treatment of Abide With Me or a hip-hop rendition of We Plough the Fields and Scatter. Rock of Ages will be done at a much faster tempo with the minister doing some energetic gyration of the hips in the style of Elvis Presley. I can hear Bob Dylan doing Will Your Anchor Hold in a nasal twang. And the 123rd Psalm Revisited.

As with pub karaoke, all the words are up on a big screen, changing colour in time with the tune.

Hymn Technology of Surrey, the company responsible for the kit, said that the hymnal device is helping churches to revive flagging congregations.

It is the Church of England which has mainly espoused karaoke. I would imagine there are progressive elements in the Kirk who would not be averse. Not so sure about the Roman Catholics since Pope Benedict XVI thinks modern music verges on the satanic. He said: "Rock is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship."

You would imagine that the Frees, big or wee, would not have any truck with karaoke. But they don't need to since they have that wailing music sweeping across the church from cantor to congregation which sounds eerie but is strangely moving. My apologies in advance to any Free congregations who have modernised and are now singing Kumbaya to guitar accompaniment.

With the singing sorted, how about some dancing in the aisles bearing in mind He Leadeth Me?

Or a game of bingo. Each member of the congregation with a card containing the numbers of hymns and psalms. First to score off all wins the jackpot, half of that week's collection.

Meanwhile, no church should be without a big computer screen to display texted opinions of the vicar's sermon in real time. With such abbreviations as lol.

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