Ode to Joy

There are some songs everyone knows. They are more than classics, they are somehow part of the fundamental human experience. One of those songs is Ode to Joy, by Beethoven. It has so many different lyric sets, is sung in nearly every key and language. When you hear this song, you know the rhythm, the next notes, even if you aren’t a musician. 

This morning, a new pianist was sitting at the piano before Mass began. She was playing Ode to Joy. However, the tempo was a bit off. Not all the chords resolved exactly on point. Some parts were a bit faster than necessary, others slower. As a musician, I found myself judging the music. “It’s not bad,” I told myself, “but it sure isn’t great either. Is this what we are in for all of Mass?” Can you hear my sigh of relief when the regular pianist walked over for the entrance hymn?

What a way to start the Eucharist. While I consider myself a musician, piano is not my instrument of choice. There is no way I could play Ode to Joy, or any other piece of music for that matter, with as much competency as the young woman did before Mass began. There I was, judging her mistakes and inconsistent melody, while my own life’s song was full of discord. 

I enjoy analogies to life being a grand song, or a large tapestry – that life is some great work of art that we all participate in but are unable to see or hear the whole of, that is God’s job. But how often do we find ourselves trying to assume the role of the master, while we are but students? 

At the conclusion of Mass, my sigh of relief turned to a sigh of doubt. The young woman was back and at the piano. Ode to Joy was the final song. She had been practicing before Mass. “Oh man, I hope this goes ok.” I thought to myself. 

What a doubter I was! The cantor announced the song, everyone raised their books and voices. It was beautiful. Were there wrong notes, maybe. Did I hear them? No. I was too busy being embraced by the swell of music coming from my whole community. Together, we made this music in praise to God. Together, we became one voice. Was every voice on pitch, probably not. Was my own perfect? For sure not! 

God intended us for community. To work together, to sing together, to praise together. Not one of us is perfect and it is not our place to judge one another’s lack of perfection. I hope that at some point today, you feel the embrace of your community as you work together, whoever and wherever your community is. Together, we are striving to get to the Kingdom of God. 

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Reading the Same Sheet of Music

If you read my last post it shouldn’t come as too big a shock at a subsequent post would follow the story to the next rehearsal.

I was glad when Sunday arrived. Not only does it mean going to church, it also now means nearly 2 hours of music rehearsal – by myself! Big plug for my husband who is hanging with all 3 kids so that I can indulge my musical side.

While I was happy to be singing, I was looking forward to bell choir. When we got the bells out, I got straight to work highlighting my music. As we are all novices to the bells, our choir director asked us to highlight all our notes to help get everyone on the same page, or measure for you music folk. Each bell is one note, like one key on the piano. By highlighting wherever your note or notes (if you are in charge of multiple bells) appears, it helps keep everyone together. We have three songs for Christmas this  year, so we were all a bit scattered as we highlighted. I was absorbed in The First Noel – the bells I have been assigned are used frequently and play important roles in keeping the tune going. I looked up and realized we were going to start playing, so I got ready. 1, 2, 3, 4 Go!

It was so hard! I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t able to find my place. Then, when I thought I had found it, I had completely lost it again. I was counting, I was focused, I couldn’t figure it out. When the piece was finally over, the director looked straight at me and said, “Ok, good, good. Now, Kate, I didn’t really hear the C though.” I glanced at the music stand next to mine. Mine, as you know, said The First Noel. Everyone else’s said “Away in the Manger.” Oh dear. And in that one my missing “C” note messes up everyone! I was so absorbed in what I was doing, that I missed the direction to switch songs.

Continue reading “Reading the Same Sheet of Music”

Joyful Noise

ONV344KX9KIt was such a lovely day today! I was able to open the windows, let in light and lots of fresh air. The kids must have felt my good mood and, miracle of miracles, all fell asleep….AT THE SAME TIME! Yes, the capitals are not only appropriate for that statement, they are necessary. It was wonderful. I was able to sit in complete quiet, the breeze coming through the front windows and indulge my creative side for a few moments.

As I saw writing, I became aware of how my sense of hearing heightened as the stillness and quiet of the house lengthened. I could hear kids playing, dogs barking, the bustle of life just outside my door. I was drawn to the sound of a child playing and talking loudly.

As I listened, the talking turned, surprisingly, to song. It’s not uncommon for my kids to spontaneously burst out into song – we listen to so much music throughout the day. After naps we had a jam session – me on the guitar and John and Rosie taking turns playing harmonica and singing random nothings. At dinner tonight, John started singing “Human Again” from the Beauty and the Beast musical soundtrack. But our musical outbursts are usually confined to our house or car.

But I digress. This child was incredible. She was quite literally singing at the top of her lungs. It was as if she was the only person around and she had no shame or fear at being overheard. By now you may be trying to guess what song she was singing. Taylor Swift? Or perhaps Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez? Not a chance.

She was singing “One Thing Remains” by Passion, a Christian music group. She kept singing the same part over and over again, probably because it’s the chorus and it’s an easy musical line. “Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” Over and over again, she bellowed with more gusto than even the best opera singers. She had no audience, there was no performance. Over and over again, “your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me” (Song here).

We go to church, Sunday after Sunday, expecting to meet God. And often we do. How many of us expect to meet God on the street corner at 2:30pm on a Thursday afternoon? This little girl proclaimed the purest praise that I think I’ve ever heard. It was so inspiring and has stuck with me. What a profound statement of faith.

I will hold onto this memory. At moments of doubt, uncertainty, or fear, I hope that this young girl’s voice comes to mind. Her joyful, innocent praise should fill all of our hearts. It makes me think of Psalm 100:

jumping shadowA psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;

serve the LORD with gladness;

come before him with joyful song.

*Know that the LORD is God,

he made us, we belong to him,

we are his people, the flock he shepherds.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him, bless his name;

good indeed is the LORD,

His mercy endures forever,

his faithfulness lasts through every generation.