1 Corinthians 12: 24-27 …God has put the body together…25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NRSV)
This familiar Bible passage correlates perfectly to music making in church — especially singing in a choir, where individuals are tasked to understand a text communally and work together to create a unified approach to the music.
Choral music is a great way to experience oneness. We are called to ponder anew what each song means and — typically with the help of a leader — to reach a common understanding of what we are communicating. As we sing, we must become skilled listeners; otherwise, we cannot produce a harmonious sound.
Choral musicians are asked not to stand out or compete to be heard. Rather, singers listen to their neighbors, building bridges between each vocalist’s unique qualities (like hands and feet!) and creating a collective aural pool so listeners cannot tell where one voice ends and another begins. It takes time to learn how to function collaboratively. When we figure it out – which doesn’t always happen – it transforms hearts of those who create the music and those who listen.
When a director asks for short notes, everyone must interpret “short” identically. If the alto line is deemed most important, sopranos must retreat with a common dynamic that ushers altos into the foreground. In unaccompanied music, “moving with your neighbors” requires sensing when they are ready to move on and anticipating each breath your neighbor takes. Whether we communicate pain, sadness, or joy together, when we build deep community, we sing God’s praise as one. In unity, we find new freedom!
Developing “oneness” requires constant practice until new habits are formed. Singers do not surrender their uniqueness; instead, they discover a middle ground so they can create a collective and pleasing sound. All we need is imagination, commitment, discipline, and listening ears…and God gave us everything we need.
Practice makes the master!
Prayer: Lord, Help us see the value in “the other” in everything we do, and to work together joyfully in your service. Amen.
The people of Grace share their favorite bible stories for the 2023 Lenten Devotional: I Love to Tell the Story. Each day's devotional will be automatically posted so come back daily after 7 am for a new reflection.