Monday, August 28, 2006

Musical Diversity

I was reading an article on EC the other day about "overused" choruses and songs. I do know that I have been quilty of playing and singing some choruses a bit too much, but when we learn a knew song, I just HAVE to sing it alot. *smile* Usually it is a chorus that we might open service with, like "Give Him the Highest Praise". I looooove that song! We are not singing it as often but I will sing it when I feel the Lord impressing me to do so. That is the whole point to our ministering in music anyway: being sensitive and willing to sing the song or chorus that will most enhance the moving and presence of the spirit of the Lord.

I said all of that to say this: I love all styles of music and I've learned through experience that you cannot say that you are not going to sing a song again ever because as soon as you do, the spirit of the Lord will move in such a way, that that just might be the very song or chorus that fits.

In a particular revival that we had last year, I sang a host of older songs and choruses. It was only the Lord helping me that enabled me to remember all of the words and chords! I can't remember the songs now, but I do remember the evangelist and his wife coming up to me later and saying they hadn't heard those songs for years and they really enjoyed singing them and hearing them again. It was just how I felt the Lord directing the music to go for that particular service.

You see, I believe that we develop relationships with some songs and they also evoke such precious memories. How can some people be so adamant about not singing a song because it is "old"? Or moan or groan: Not thaaaat song again? Let me give a bunch of credit to the singers and musicians at our church. They never complain. They just sing and worship and do such a wonderful job of both.

It was during the first month after I surrendered my life to the Lord and was filled with the Holy Ghost that the Lord ministered to me so powerfully through music for the first time. I was struggling with letting go of some old friends and an old boyfriend. Oh, I knew that I needed to let go of them, but I had not yet made any new friends in the church. It was a difficult time. I was going to church with my brother and his wife. They were the only real fellowship that I had. That night, back in 1975, a ladies trio sang, "Whatever It Takes" by Lanny Wolfe. When they started singing the second verse, I just broke before the Lord. "Take the dearest things to me, if that's how it must be, to draw me closer to thee....." And after that the first verse ministered to me so powerfully, too: "There's a voice calling me, from an old rugged tree, and it whispers "Draw closer to me", Leave this world far behind, There are new heights to climb, and a new place in me you will find." I don't think I can adequately express how that song changed my life, but from that day forward, I never looked back at those old friends and boyfriend. It was a landmark experience for me.

At church one Sunday morning, the Lord was moving in our midst in such an awesomely sweet way and I felt impressed to sing the Old Rugged Cross. I was a bit nervous, a little skeptical, questioning the Lord. It didn't seem to quite fit. Surely there was a "better" song or perhaps a "more modern" song. I don't know.....but I began to play and sing it softly. You could hear a pin drop. Soon, a young man who had been coming to church for a few weeks practically ran to the altar crying. Then another person......and another. What if I had not been willing to do The Old Rugged Cross? I don't know......I'm glad that I don't.......because lives were changed that morning.

Consider what a diverse congregation each church has. Our music must be just as diverse. I've experienced the blessing of having the "right" song just open up the heavens during our worship and I've also seen a service hindered by the lack of having the "right" song at the "right" time. I am not so sure that we should be so dependent on the music to set the stage and all. Don't get me wrong.....I love the ministry of music but could it be that we have let it become a crutch? Can we worship without it? Being a musician and singer, I almost always end my times of prayer with playing and singing, whether I am here at home or at church. But I am not dependent on the music to worship, but sometimes in our churches I think we have become perhaps a bit too dependent on it.

At IBC Musicfest 2 years ago, I attended a class taught by Bro. French on our musical heritage. He spoke of how we must not do way with our hymns. They are our musical history, so to speak. I agree wholeheartedly. Many times, I find myself praying the hymns. Example: "Oh, how I love you, how I adore you, my breath, my sunshine, my all in all...." This is the chorus from "Down From His Glory" sung in the first person. Or Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus. I could name so many. Daniel, our son, used to lay in bed at night with a hymnal, leafing through it, singing the hymns. I remember one night in particular that I went to sleep hearing him singing "Oh, I Want to See Him". It doesn't get much better than that! *smile* There again, there have been times when I've slowed it down a little and sung the chorus in the first person: "Oh, I want to see you, Look upon your face, there to sing forever of your saving grace, On the streets of glory, Let me lift my voice, Cares all past, Home at last, Ever to rejoice!"

During this past year, I've gone through some big changes in my life, suffering with physical problems, having to quit my job, having to curtail my involvement in things at church. At one point, I was going to the doctor 3 times a week for treatments. I was in pain alot of these times. I had about a 30-minute drive to the doctor, so on the way I would put in my IBC Hold On CD and play "Hold On" and just cry out to God and lean upon Him and endeavor to trust Him. And then I would play it again and again, crying and praying all the way to the doctor. Then on the way home, it would be "Hallelujah, Anyhow" and, oh, did me and Jesus have a time in that car! *tears* Those songs and my dear saviour got me through some terribly difficult and painful times. How thankful I am that I had those songs at that time to minister to me, when I needed them most.

I have a "cassette tape"...egads....that I purchased from PPH many years ago. I don't even know who the artists are now because I haven't played it for so long. But when I first got the tape, I didn't really care for it. OKay, okay, I purchased it because it was on sale! Three "cassettes" tapes for $15.00, I believe it was. Well, I didn't really like the way they sang. It wasn't a very professional sounding recording and, in all honesty, they weren't the best singers, but they were annointed. Let me tell you.........I ended up learning most of the songs on that tape and I have used them many, many times through the years and a couple of them are favorites of several people in our church, the pastor being one of them....*smile* Of course, I tweaked them a KNOW that no two apostolic people play or sing the same song the same way! *smile* a young person might say, "S'all good!" *smile* And it is. Choruses/Hymns. Contemporary/Classic. Southern Gospel/Black Gospel. Mass Choirs/Quartets. Soloists/Ensembles. Old/New.

Thank the Lord for the precious ministry of music.

My current favorite chorus is "It's So Easy to Love You" from Israel Houghton and New Breed's Live from Another Level. So simple, yet so true and beautiful....


Theresa said...

I understand exactly what you are saying about music ministering to you. I think I'm the only one at our Family Prayer service that ever sings in the middle of my prayers, because sometimes a song says it better than I can!!

Have a wonderful day!

Jewel said...

Theresa - that is probably why I pray them, because they just say what I want to say so well...yes.