Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sing a Song to the Lord

Over the last couple of days, we have had a chance to talk about facets of our " call stories." Among other things. I thought today we would be a good day to talk a little bit about what I was doing as a Lutheran and as a lawyer before I got to this point. Today I am thinking about music in worship.
As I mentioned earlier I joined the choir and the handbell choir. Music has always been a major part of my life. Although in my profile I listed a few types of music I enjoy, the truth is, I am a music mutt. I love all kinds of music, vocal and instrumental. In worship I love to sing. Sacred, contemporary, African praise, Taize, you name it. One of the things I have loved being a part of on occasion is to sing the psalm or verse for the Gospel procession as a cantor. And more recently to intone the kyrie and lead the Hymn of Praise. I look forward to the proper preface.
As much as I love to sing, I get nervous- less now than I used to. But when I get nervous, in the choir pew I would take off my shoes. Which is the first thing I do at the end of a day to get comfortable. One Sunday the acolyte stole one of my shoes and I was faced with communing with one shoe or no shoes. Good times.
As I said, I would get really nervous. Because after all this God we are talking about here. Eventually I have come to terms with the "gotta be perfect" and I enjoy solo parts more. Gotta love grace.
But one thing I can tell you is that my voice changes with the piece. I do not really try to do this. And although I have the ability to sing outside of church, it is in service in worship where sacredness of the moment and space allow me to transcend what I could normally do.
It just happens.
Our congregation is blessed with an outstanding organist and music director, as my home congregation was when I was growing up so music has always been integral to my faith experience. And seeing music as an offering in worship service, not a performance is a distinction worth mentioning.
Sometimes I wish we did more to educate the congregation about the events that lead to certain hymns or pieces being written. It allows the words to be even that much more meaningful. Like a piece composed by Paul Manz when he believed that his infant son would not live through the night and he invoked the Lord Jesus to swiftly come.
One of the things I rejoice in is the youth choir and youth instrumentalists who perform prelude and offertory music. A Sunday does not pass where there is a tear in my eye for their talent and gifts and their willingness to remain connected to our faith. Of course, there is definitely a tear when it is one of the Lutheran Chicks at the front of the church. LC#1 is hoping to successfully audition for Lutheran Summer Music Camp which is a month in the summer at Gustavus Adolphus so I will need tips from the Minnesotans if she is selected.
Before I leave you with a list of some of my favorites, I share this with you. In my experience, music is intertwined with the milestones of our lives in faith. I still remember the hymn sung for each Lutheran Chick's baptism. The music and anthems offered at weddings and services of Resurrection victory and ordinations put flesh onto the bones of the Word. One of the times I feel the greatest sense of service is in services of resurrection victory when our music is part of the balm.
So here is my partial list:
Lift high the Cross
Lead on O King Eternal
O Sacred Head Now Wounded'
If You But suffer God to Guide you
Tree of Life
Let Us Break Bread Together
Here I am Lord
Silent Night
A Mighy Fortress
Of the Father's Love Begotten
Marty Haugen's Holden Evening Prayer
Anything Taize
Amazing Grace
Shepherd Me O God
I want to walk as a Child of the Light
O Come and Mourn
Jesus Christ is risen today
Hallelujah Chorus
Were You There

I am sure there are others but that is my list for now.
What are your favorites?


Pastor Eric said...

"And seeing music as an offering in worship service, not a performance is a distinction worth mentioning." -- I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you for mentioning this.

You list of favorite hymns looks really good and many of them of some of my favorites as well. I would add: Borning cry and Earth and All Stars. And I would echo Were you there. When we sing this on good Friday it always gives me goosebumps.

LawAndGospel said...

I enjoy "Borning Cry"- it makes me cry. Earth and All stars always makes me smile when we sing about "Loud boiling test tubes". Not sure why- I can see them as animated.

Pastor Eric said...

Singing Earth and All Stars. I like the verse about "loud blowing snowstorms" in the middle of the summer. Sort of cools you off on a hot day :)

Leah Sophia said...

I LOVE Holden Evening Prayer! Your list gives me a great blog idea for these very hot and humid summer days and nights when I've been doing very little and blogging even less. "Earth and All Stars," too, lots more. But at the risk of maybe appearing irrational, I cannot abide anything by John Ylvisaker, and "Borning Cry" has to be one of the worst hymns ever...please don't delete this comment!