Praise God with trumpet sound, with lute and harp! Praise God with tambourine and dance, with strings and pipe! Praise God with clanging cymbals; praise God with loud clashing cymbals! – Psalm 150:3-5 (NRSV, adapted for inclusive language)
I grew up in a quiet church. A don’t-run-in-the-sanctuary church. A sit-still-in-the-pews church. Only on Good Fridays was a harsh, jarring sound intentionally included in worship, when a loud minor chord from the organ crashed through the silence to symbolize the closing of Jesus’ tomb.
Loud disruptive sounds without context or key were not considered worshipful.
But pitched sounds, harmonized sounds, sounds that soothed or inspired or rejoiced—those sounds were worshipful. Easter-morning trumpets and Taizé-meditating guitars. Angelic harps and robed choirs. “Amazing Grace” on a still-learning violinist’s untuned strings. The organ’s wooden flute pipes (or an electronic facsimile thereof).
Clang! Crash! Whack! Roll! Bang! Splash! Interruptions of serenity meant bad news. Good Friday news.
Yet twice in Psalm 150:5 the psalmist calls for loud interruptions of clashing and clanging. Twice the psalmist directs the percussionist to override worshipful harmonies with a deafening metallic splash. Twice the psalmist instructs: More! Louder!
More and louder, because God’s greatness is an interruption, a crashing interjection of good news amid the world’s troubles.
More and louder, because this is not the time for a symphony of the status quo.
More and louder, because Easter’s life is greater than Good Friday’s death.
More and louder, because the world needs a sustained jolt of joy to quake the foundations of power. Because you and I and our communities need a crash of unrestrained hope to interrupt fear. Because too much of our breath is spent on stress and survival, while the roar of freedom’s cymbal is calling us to dance and shout!
Making me a crashing cymbal, O God, a clanging gong, a disruptive drum for the purpose of your praise.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and the co-author of Denial Is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.