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Friday, January 21, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 4:1–16
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”
(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (NRSV)
Singing in a choir is one of the most gratifying and unifying activities most people can experience. A lot of people know this because Chorus America estimated in 2019 that throughout America there were “54 million adults and children participating in choral groups. More than one in six Americans over the age of 18 sings in a chorus.” And they go on to report that “nearly three quarters of singers (73%) say choral singing helps them feel less alone or lonely. Compared to the general public, they are far less likely to report indicators of isolation or depression. Choral singers report stronger relationships and better social skills than the public at large. Nearly 7 in 10 singers say that singing has helped them socialize better in other parts of their lives.”
Singing in a choir is unifying because so much is based on blending your voice with others around you, which means listening is every bit as important as making sound. As a choir director I sometimes remind singers that if you can’t hear your neighbor then you are probably singing too loudly. The choral experience is different from the solo experience, and good singers know the difference. The choral experience means patiently working together to get the final “t” of a word together with thirty other people, to shape a vowel perfectly as one, to get a crescendo to build together, to create a sense of line and direction together. These are some of the elements of choral singing that bring people together, that make the music happen.
It is not as easy as it seems though, so it takes a fair bit of patience. One person always misses a certain note or has a habit of singing a smidge under the pitch. These are the moments when patience from everyone is needed until some correction hopefully happens. Patience and ultimately a generous dose of love. Love for every person in the group making this intangible product of sound together. Love for the composer who wrote the music, and love for every person that hears and receives the music. The music itself is a gift so easily taken for granted, yet so incredibly precious as we have realized during this pandemic. It is the gift of live music that nourishes, transforms, and changes not just the performers but all who are open to that life-changing experience with every note.
“Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Loving God, bind us together in unity to do your will, to see each other, every human, as your child. Help us to sing together and to be a gift for each other. Amen.
Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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