Friday, June 26, 2009

Come early on Sunday

We have a unique prelude this Sunday I hope you'll want to hear. I know that the liturgical music this summer is less familiar, and even from the organ bench I've been able to tell that some portions are going better than others. In particular, the verses of the Gloria are considerably quieter than the refrains. In response to that, I've asked David to sing the Gloria as a solo for the prelude this Sunday. It will give everyone a chance to open their hymnals and simply listen and follow along before singing it a few minutes later. My hope is that it will boost confidence and aid participation in the service.

Sunday's service includes an old favorite hymn, "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name!" Any hymn with an exclamation point in the title needs to be sung loudly and proudly! The metaphor of God as king is certainly common throughout the hymnal, but my favorite imagery from the hymn is the end of the last verse: "We'll join the everlasting song, and crown him Lord of all."

Music often punctuates the most emotional moments of our lives. In musical theatre, characters break into song to express grander emotions than words can convey. It reminds me of Alice Ripley's speech at this year's Tony awards, where she read this quote from John Kennedy (at 1:26 in the YouTube clip):

"I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we too will be remembered not for our victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."

These words border upon overwrought when she shouts them, but just think how much more powerful they would sound if set to music. Music, religion, philosphy - the fine arts and the humanities long outlive any politician or general, and someday we will break into song and join the chorus of heaven. Sunday morning is just one more practice for that eternal song to come.


  1. Rev. Robert FerroJune 27, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    Your post reminds me of a comment I once read in "The Lutheran" that no one ever leaves church humming the sermon. Music can express things that simply cannot be expressed with mere words. So this Sunday, and every Sunday for that matter, we should sing with gusto.

  2. This all goes along nicely with a recent NOVA special on PBS that discussed music and the brain. Human society has found music to be an important way to create community and communicate with the spiritual world for as long as there have been people. The TV program shows that it is important to join in, even if you can only sing some of the notes. It's in the participation that you experience the real power of music, so don't just be an observer.