Worship music has played a significant part in my spiritual life from the time I was a youngster.
Though I cannot remember the name of the song, I do recall my first solo in a Christmas musical as a kindergartener. It had something to do with the “clip-clop” sounds made by Mary and Joseph’s donkey as they made their way to Bethlehem.
My piano teacher in elementary school insisted upon teaching hymns to me, though I much preferred playing the hip-hop, “boogie-woogie” songs of the day. I think she may have had a clandestine purpose—not for my soul, but for me to become a pianist for our church one day. It didn’t quite work out, though. Little league football season started, and dreams of being a star receiver interfered. That didn’t quite work out either.
The churches where my dad served during my junior high and high school years both had large, active youth choirs. They were fun places to hang out with friends on Sunday nights, and we took several trips to sing at area churches. Several of us even were honored to be part of the state convention’s All-State Youth Choir.
In college, attempting to follow in my Dad’s steps, I tried out for the Furman Singers. Sight-reading a piece that I’d never heard before didn’t go very well. In fact, the director’s bewildered grimaces linger still. I did, however, wind up singing with the university chorus for a while. At Christmas, the chorus joined with the Singers for a performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” The mass choir’s sound was impressive to say the least, and I can recall the words to many of those incredible compositions even today.
At our wedding, a church hand bell choir in which I had participated as a teenager made the long trek across several states to play for the pre-processional and to do a peal of bells as we left the altar. During the ceremony, the congregation joined with us in singing “The Lord’s Prayer.” I still get choked up whenever someone intones, “For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever.”
As newlyweds, Michelle and I joined the church choir and played hand bells again. She played several of the high, tinkling bells, and I struggled along with several of the low, gonging bells. She was pregnant with Laura for much of the time, and I believe the joyful sounds of those bells have something to do with our daughter’s love of music and playing a cello. Our son, Caleb, later learned to play the French Horn.
The church where we now attend in Louisville has an outstanding choir with a talented orchestra and praise team. Worship music is always thoughtfully planned, well-prepared and very meaningful. Neither Michelle nor I have participated in a church choir for years, choosing to worship together as a family. But now that our kids are grown, there’s renewed talk of returning to the loft.
Why have I taken you along on this trek down memory lane? Worship music likely has affected your spiritual lives, too, helping shape your theology. And, although few churches probably note it, this week is Worship Music Week on the Southern Baptist Convention’s calendar. Frankly, I wouldn’t have known it, except that there is one sitting on my desk.
Don’t let this Sunday pass by without expressing a sincere word of appreciation for the ministry of your music leader and for the choir members, pianist, organist, orchastra and praise team who faithfully lift their voices and instruments—and our spirits—in praise of the Heavenly Father. Most importantly, thank our God for the joy of music.