Tuesday, February 24, 2009
During Sunday's sermon, I wrote myself a note that I should blog about "the word of God" as it relates to hymns. As Pastor mentioned, the great tradition of Lutheran hymns is to write texts that are based on scripture and/or proclaim our theological understanding.
When I sat down to write today, however, I remembered that the title of the sermon was actually "the voice of God." And that, in musical terms, can be quite distinct from "the word of God."
For instance, think about singing "Jesus Christ is Ris'n Today" on Easter Sunday. It's a great hymn of praise, with brass, organ, and voices proclaiming the good news. That isn't necessarily God's voice speaking to us, though; it's our voices raised in praise to Him. It's the word of God.
God's voice can be heard in a multitude of places beyond hymns. For me, it could be the Cleveland Symphony playing "The Great Gate of Kiev" from "Pictures at an Exhibition." It could be a great Broadway showtune, like "I will never leave you" from Side Show or "I still believe" from Miss Saigon. By the way, that's me and Lea Salonga in the picture, taken on a NYC trip a couple of years back. Almost anything she sings (or Audra MacDonald or Renee Fleming or...) can make me think that only God could create such beauty. That is truly the voice of God to my ears.
I'm sure we all hear God's voice speaking to us in different ways. For some people, perhaps it's the sound of birdcalls on this sunny day or the rhythm of poetry or a baby's coo. Since this blog is primarily about music, though, I'd love to hear about people's experiences with the voice of God in music. What hymns speak most directly to you? What other music creates the greatest sense of reverence in your life?