To the Music Director: "These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?" - Psalm 42
The Psalms often have signature lines at the top, things like "a psalm of David" or "a song of ascents." I don't understand most of them.
But this psalm written for a down-in the-dumps Music Director? This one I get. This one I could imagine taking place at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve with the timpanist stuck on the Pike and the minister MIA.
I'll speak for myself. I sometimes take for granted the musicians who lead us in worship. Take how I preach for example. There I am preaching my heart out, rolling out well-practiced gestures and facial expressions, holding knowing eye contact, trying to connect with those in the pews.
All the while those sitting in the choir stalls get an eyeful of my—shall we say—humbler parts.
No wonder the church musician in this psalm is feeling a bit blue!
Let's reclaim the idea of "preaching to the choir." The choir needs good news about God's love too. The choir needs Christly encouragement and the support of prayer.
You know what they say, there's no time like the present. So to church musicians: thank you for what you do, for leading us in shouts of thanksgiving, in descants of delight, in singing us into the Spirit.
God of David, God of harmony, God of angel choirs, thank you for the gift of music and bless those who make it.
John Edgerton is Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.