After the announcements, the person who is leading at the moment introduces the prelude as a curtain to separate the non-worship elements (like announcements) from the worship time. This is important, because the prelude-time will help us to prepare our hearts for our encounter with God Almighty.
The prelude is a musical piece that has the role of a preface for something that is coming, in our church’s case, our corporative worship time. The prelude has been used in the church since early as 1448 and many famous composers created wonderful pieces to be used for this purpose, J. S. Bach (1685-1750) for example. His preludes for organ were (and are) a wonderful tool to prepare the hearts of believers for the worship time. Sadly, in some churches and cultures, the prelude became more like an entertainment time to admire the ability of the organist, or it became the background music for conversations between friends.
Now, do not take me wrong, both activities (admire the ability of the musician, or talking with friends before the service) are not bad, but the prelude has a different purpose.
The prelude is an instrumental piece (no voice is involved, unless it is a choral prelude, but that is a different topic) that invites us to meditate in God, who He is, and what He has done.
Let me give you some tips for the next time you hear the prelude, here in our church or somewhere else. When the music starts, if is a familiar hymn, think about the lyrics, sing it in your heart, meditate and remember if the Lord used this particular hymn in your life or in a loved one’s life. Prelude is a wonderful time to pray; talk with your Heavenly Father, He is there next to you, to have a time with Him. Read you Bible; remember your favorite passage, maybe the one that you learned a long time ago in your Sunday school class. If you have little ones next to you, teach them how special this moment is and let them to see you enjoy it; they will learn this lesson.
Yes, prelude time is an important part of our worship time, because prelude takes us into God’s presence.
In His service.