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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Monday, December 08, 2003

Musical musings

Tripp is talking about music, and about the role of sacred oratory in his conversion. Good food for thought. We chatted about it some; but he has real work to do today, so I found myself continuing down the line in my own head-- a dangerous thing.

I haven't a conversion story to tell; I'm a cradle Christian, raised in the Episcopal church, and returned to it after something of a collegiate hiatus spent dabbling elsewhere, here and there.

But I've always heard the music. I wasn't raised in a particularly musical household, God knows; but I can't remember a time when I didn't zero in on melody. Classical cantatas, swingin' gospel, rock n' roll, bluegrass... all of it. At different points in my life, it's all drawn me; reached into my soul and anchored there, in a way that spoken words alone do not.

I don't understand when someone says they don't think one sort of music or another is appropriate for worship. There are individual songs I prefer, or don't care for; but I've felt the Spirit's presence in a capella plainsong, and in the rhythm of drums and electric guitar. God speaks in so many voices...

That's how I found the Christian Ministry Center, in college. It was pretty freeform worship, and I really missed the liturgy, the sacramental understanding; but the intentional study of the Word, and the genuine care and community, largely made up for the lack.

And we sang. Mainline christian contemporary, and fairly simple, most of it; but solid, and strong, and an integral expression of faith.

I'm not a particularly great singer; I can usually carry a tune, but I'm not likely to win any awards (listen for Susie's lilting tones, and you will hear some singing!). But I can't not sing. There's music in my head, all the time, and sometimes it just comes tumbling out. This is something of a source for amusement among my classmates, I know, but there it is.

Much of the scripture I know has sopped into my brain in orchestrated form. I can't hear "the Lord is my light and my salvation," or "I am the resurrection and the life," without the accompanying melody lines. It's how I celebrate when I'm happy, how I regain control when I'm angry, how I cope when I'm afraid, or hurt, or grieving, and how I worship "in the beauty of holiness." The Word inevitably resonates into harmony, in and through my relationship with God, and with the people God places in my path.

Okay, enough musing... back to the salt mines.


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