When my father was a youth, he was invited to participate in the choir for June Conference. Sort of.
Well, he was invited, but then the choir director figured out he was the one a little off tune and he was instructed to move his mouth but leave his vocal chords uninvolved henceforth and forever. Just like that. One empty mouth filling the Tabernacle seats.
When I was younger and singing competitively and music-wise, I would listen to him at church--he still sang, but he was horribly self-conscious and would denigrate himself at any opportunity--and you know what? He wasn't that bad. He was almost always on. Sure, he couldn't sing parts and wasn't apt to be picked up by Beelzebubs, but he can sing and he is sincere and, in my opinion, someone's worshipfulness is more important than their absolute precision. To say nothing of how that experience cut my father off from feeling part of the capitalized World of Music for the rest of his life. He is forevermore an outsider. Thanks a lot, lady.
The Scriptures are pretty clear here: the Lord delights in the song of the righteous. There's a definite scriptural dearth on verses proclaiming the Lord's love of perfect pitch.
I know, I know. Those of us with any training cringe at halfbaked musical numbers, but that's our problem, not the Lord's. I'm not sure he minds, what with him busy looking on the heart and everything.
Music, most people seem to agree, gives the Spirit a big leg-up into our hearts, but if the music is all about me, then why isn't it reflecting my precise tastes? Why don't I get to make all the musical selections? But that's not the point, as we all recognize. And besides, every part of a worship service is supposed to bring us closer to God. We wouldn't consider asking someone with a funny accent never to give a talk just because their speech is imperfect. Why the double standard?
Anyway. Let's stop talking about singing in front of the congregation--I'll do that next week. This week let's discuss congregational singing only.
My dad still loves to sing the hymns, even if he's convinced he's terrible. He sings with love and enthusiasm and it's certainly an accepted prayer.
As opposed to my brother Reb.
In high school, my brother Reb refused to sing at church because he was convinced that numerous members of our congregation were singing the hymns without knowing what words they were signing. This rendered them horrible hypocrites and Pharisees, delivering hollow prayers just to seem righteous to their peers. Not wanting to be perceived as faux righteous, he did not sing the hymns. Instead, he read them to himself while everyone else sang.
An outside observer would likely interpret my father's off-key gusto as enjoying church. My brother Reb still seems to be there against his will sometimes.
I won't comment any more on that, but I will say this: I'm certain heaven wants us to sing and enjoys it when we do. I'm certain heaven appreciates the off-key as well as the classically trained.
And this is my point: All God's creature's got a place in the choir and we'll all be happier when we sing along. And now we'll be privileged to enjoy a special musical number from Brother Makem and Brother Clancy:
God invites us all to the choir. Whose example shall we emulate?
Next week! Why we shouldn't thank the musical number!
last week's svithe