Singing as formation
“The gift of music offers us the message of scripture on wings of song that find nesting places in our hearts where words alone cannot go.”
As a small child, I remember regularly thumbing through the hymnal on Sunday mornings. My church had received the new Lutheran Book of Worship when I was very young, and I remember it vividly. It had a deep green cover and interesting icons. The edge of its pages had these intriguing “rubric red” freckles which served to set it apart from other books. It felt holy. It smelled holy, too. Every Sunday I would set this book up on my chair and pretend to play the organ and direct the choir from my seat. I was simply fascinated by this new hymnal. Fascinated not only by what was in it, but also by what I experienced in its liturgies as a young child. As I grew up, I naturally began to understand and more deeply discover its treasure of prayers and hymnody as I leafed through it each week. I began to understand the actions contained in its liturgies and the words of its poetry. The tunes and texts became a part of me and played a significant role in shaping my faith.
This fascination with hymnody continues today as these same texts and tunes continue to reveal and form my faith. I marvel in the power of hymnody to shape our faith at any age – even of young children who may not be able to read, sing or understand the texts as we adults do. Even young children such as my younger daughter who, despite what we tell her, still mistakes the word “Kyrie” for “Yippee-Yay” on a regular basis. While the meaning of “Kyrie” and “Yippee-yay” couldn’t be farther apart, it doesn’t matter because each week as my daughter worships together with others she has a powerful experience of singing together. She offers her voice in an age appropriate way. In her regular singing and worshipping she knows she is a part of a community that loves her and she knows she is loved by God. Her understanding of this love will develop as she grows older. This communal experience of worshiping and singing together is fundamentally important to her faith formation and her development as a human being. So much so, that the Sunday morning chaos of getting out the door if a small hassle compared to the great gift of our worship together.
We all are shaped and formed in Christ by participating in corporate singing, regardless of our ability. Our experience singing together, whether in key or not, is important and powerful. Yes, “it is good to be here”, as the Gospel says. To worship together, to sing together, and to pray together each week. To offer our praises and prayer together and hear of the love of God – together – is a powerful thing.
On Sunday, we will sing our Saint George’s hymn, All Embracing God. It was commissioned especially for our community on the occasion of our Nave rededication and in honor of and to inspire the work we do together to change the world. It was commissioned with the hope that it would become a part of us, that it would continue to form us in our ministry together, and that it would inspire us to do the good work of Christ in our community.
I look forward to seeing you in church on Sunday and worshipping and singing together. It is important. It is life-giving. It is powerful and life-changing for us all.
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Ben Keseley, Minister of Music