Bob Tamasy – Transforming discordant notes into blessed harmony
Did you know that not everyone can sing? If you possess a good singing voice, this might come as a shock. But believe me, some of us can’t sing, even in the shower. It’s like the old joke, “Can Baptists dance?” Answer: “Well, some can. Some can’t.
I remember singing in a children’s choir as a child, but once my voice started changing, all hope of generating melodious notes from my vocal cords was lost. I’m so happy that Psalm 100:1 says we should “Make a joyful noise for the Lord”, because even on my best days, that’s all I can do.
Lack of singing skills doesn’t excuse us from singing praises to God, even if we couldn’t even qualify for the laugh track on “American Idol.” The Psalms – literally, “The Songs” – ask us to do this. Psalm 98:1, for example, very clearly states, “Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done marvelous things. »
Three verses later he adds, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, break out in joyful song with music”, and Psalm 98:7 says, “Let the sea resound and all that it contains, the world and all who live in it.” This is helpful because even though my singing skills may be around 0.5 on a scale of 1-10, I’ve been known to squeal and boom out from time to time.
I have known – or more exactly, heard – people who couldn’t sing better than me, only they didn’t. Or they chose to sing anyway. What can we say about these people? Proverbs 21:2 declares, “A person may think his own ways are good, but the Lord weighs on the heart.” Fortunately, from God’s perspective, it’s not the quality of the singing that matters most, but our motives. A heart in tune with the Lord, though the voice may be false, is far more pleasing to him than a wondrous voice prompted by pride or applause.
In contemporary worship today, the pipe organ has been replaced by guitars, keyboards and drums. In these contexts, backing vocals and choral arrangements are rarely, if ever, heard. And often electronic music is so loud it’s hard to hear yourself singing, let alone the person standing next to you.
Some congregations, however, have retained traditional forms of music, including organs and choirs. For these places of worship, congregational singing is also an important element. I think back to when this was my standard worship experience – a collection of singers and non-singers, harmonious and not-so, coming together. And surprisingly enough, they were able to produce vocal music that somehow sounded magnificent. Discordant notes blend to create divine harmony.
Please don’t get me dissolving modern worship music. There are a lot of things to be congratulated – as well as others that don’t really deserve it. But the human body is made up of disparate parts, performing very different functions; when it works properly, it results in something we call ‘good health’. Likewise, I think the widespread de-emphasis of congregational singing robs many of us of the opportunity to participate in making “a merry sound unto the Lord.”
I love the words of Colossians 3:15-16, in which the apostle Paul urged the believers in ancient Colossus to teach and sing with one another:
“Let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, for as members of one body you have been called to peace. And be grateful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly in you as you teach and exhort one another with all wisdom, and sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Who knows, maybe Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:7) was that he couldn’t sing. Probably not, but wouldn’t it be funny if it was? However, he too urged everyone to sing, and suggested no exceptions or exclusions. In essence, he was saying, “Sing! Sing loudly!” Perhaps this was a way of letting the peace of Christ reign in their hearts.
On many occasions I have had the joy of being in assemblies where believers from many different countries have joined together to sing familiar hymns and songs in their own languages. To the human ear, it may have sounded like a high school orchestra tuning up. God receives our vocal offerings very differently, I believe. We are told, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God…” (2 Corinthians 2:15).
As Paul wrote, “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). My song to me might sound like the moan of a dying frog, but to God it’s “a joyful sound.”
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has authored, co-authored and edited over 15 books. These include the recently released Marketplace Ambassadors; “Business at its Best: Timeless Proverbial Wisdom for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies”, “The Heart of Mentoring” and “Pursuing Life with a Shepherd’s Heart”. A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna”, is translated into more than 20 languages and emailed worldwide by CBMC International. His blog address is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is [email protected]