Pastoral Perspectives

The music of the church

Every Thursday night, the choir meets for practice and if you happen to be around the church at that hour, you might hear different sounds from various rooms. You might even find the songs weird and unmelodious because of the way it sounds. This is because the choir often breaks into sectional practice. This means that the 4 parts of the choir viz., sopranos, altos, tenors and basses will be practicing their own parts separately. Except for the sopranos, I admit that the sound emerging from the sectionals might attract more frowns than applause.

Like the choir, the orchestra is also made up of four families viz., strings, brass, woodwind and percussion. Some instruments are louder than others while some are played very rarely and people may not notice if they are not around. However, one cannot imagine watching a movie without music. If you watch a horror movie without the sound, you might realize that there is nothing horrifying about it!

While doing my Pastoral Counselling course at Singapore Bible College, after taking some personality tests, it intrigued me that even in a class of 14 students; we would have so many different personalities. It dawned upon me that indeed, human beings are complex and this is further complicated by our sinful nature. “Separated due to in amicable differences” is a common reason given when couples divorce. If two persons are unable to live together due to their differences, is it possible to find a community in a church?

By God’s grace I have had the opportunity to work with different choirs and musicians. Off the podium, I have often watched choir and orchestra members one by one. They all have different personalities. Some are very young, some are not so young, some are quiet, some are loud, and some are very colorful while some choose to remain behind the scene. I am greatly humbled by the attitude of many people who have been serving the Lord despite their heavy commitments. As I observe the diverse personalities, I am reminded of the fact that just as each instrument in the orchestra is unique and different or just as each choir member has a unique voice, when they all come together under the baton, they produce wonderful music. Yes, there are rules to be followed and fine tuning so that we are all on the same pitch and rhythm. When we operate in love within the boundaries of God’s commandments, there is harmony. “In musicharmony is the use of simultaneous pitches (tones, notes), or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them.” (Wikipedia)

This is an example of the body of Christ that even in our differences, together under the guidance and baton of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can serve the Lord in harmony. On our own, we can never have harmony. The challenge of being a musician in an orchestra or a choir member is to be able to wait and produce only that which is written on the music score under the direction of the conductor. A chord is made up for 3 or more sounds and produces harmony when played or sung together.

I always look forward to the time when all sectionals come together and sing their parts.  The wonderful harmonies always bring joy and uplift my soul. It is often a reminder that we are incomplete on our own and we need one another to produce that harmony. When we come together in unity, our dissonant chords come to life and what might sound very weird and funny might suddenly turn out to be a very nice chord. Dissonant chords and sounds often find resolution as we follow the rules of harmony. Likewise, we are parts of the body of Christ and all of us are made differently yet, when we are willing to be brought under the control of our master, our Lord Jesus Christ, something beautiful can emerge. Christ is the head of the Church and we all play a part in serving the body of Christ with our different gifts.

I Corinthians 12: 12-13 reminds us For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

May we all learn to listen and pay heed to the one true conductor so that we will truly mean it when we sing

Father we ask of You this day
Come and heal our land
Knit our hearts together
That Your glory might be seen in us
Then the world will know
That Jesus Christ is Lord

Let us be one voice
That glorifies Your name
Let us be one voice
Declaring that You reign
Let us be one voice
In love and harmony
And we pray O God grant us unity.

(Lyrics from ‘One Voice’ by Robert Gay)

Ms Loliro Sani

July 3, 2016