I have a dear friend who just retired from her church position as organist and choir director. Anne is an accomplished musician and wonderful fellow-follower of Christ. But she made the mistake a few years ago of telling me…well, let’s let her tell us:
I did something daring yesterday. I played a prelude in which the melody was in the pedals. If you make a mistake with that, people could notice. I say "could" because most folks don't really listen.
I can speak for those of us who are musically-challenged; Anne, you're almost dead wrong! You mistake the look of awe and envy for nonchalant "not listening". (Translation: we non-musical types are like a doe in headlights).
Several years ago I made a worse mistake than Anne. I cannot read music nearly as well as a blind man in a Braille-less world, but more than 50 years after giving up the drums (in 6th grade) I developed this longing to be able to praise God with other than just words; I decided to take up the violin.
I took it up – meaning I borrowed my daughter’s violin, paid “big-bucks” to get it repaired, and bought a beginner’s book from the music store.
My first practice session included Elizabeth's coaching. When she could no longer tolerate the "unusual" (translation: painful) sounds of the assaulted strings, I moved into another room.
After about 10 more minutes of strange melodies I put down the bow and loudly-announced (to no one in particular): "I stink!"
I tell you, the muffled laughter is still echoing in our hallways. (I'm not certain it was Elizabeth, either....maybe God was pleased I was trying; maybe he was relieved I didn’t take my efforts too seriously). Apart from a bigger miracle than was needed to part the Red Sea, Russell is in no danger of receiving an invitation from Carnegie Hall. Music just isn’t my “gift”.
But this “doe in the headlights” non-musician still loves music; especially that which is well written, well-played, and motivated by the heart’s desire to give all praise to God.
Without a musical frame, much of what we do in worship would be theologically-textureless, colorless and stiff. Not only that...we wouldn't remember most of it.
Can you imagine Wesleyan worship without Charles? His contribution to theology among the people called Methodist was akin to St. Francis' advice: "At all times preach the Gospel; if necessary, use words".
Music helps our souls know how to praise God whether it is our fingers on the keys, lips on the horn or vocal cords, or someone else leading the band. In short, it is not the sound; it is the heart that worships.
For You, Today…
If you can play an instrument or sing on key – or, like me, if the paint peels when you try to sing, I wish to give you the same response I gave to Anne about loving God with whatever music He put in your being:
Keep pedaling, sister!