Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Part 3: Music

Say what you will about praise and worship. It can be cheesy. It can be quite Protestant. It can be theologically suspect. It can be just bad music. But man, can it be powerful.

The music was a big part of my experience as a kid at WorkCamp. I had sung in the junior choir at my parish and had always loved to sing, so this praise & worship thing was novel and exciting to me. You mean, you can sing to God, and dance and clap at the same time? HUH? You can close your eyes and sing softly something that has lyrics you never knew you needed to say? There's more to church music than "eagles' wings" and "here I am, Lord"? Whoa. Say no more, I was hooked. Now that I'm "more mature" I think that Latin, chant, and old standards like "Come Holy Ghost" are awesome, but that was a long time coming. As a teen, they were just plain boring. There was nothing inspiring to me in them, I didn't know Latin (still don't really), and the words didn't seem to come from the heart. The God in that music seemed far away.

When we sang, "Lord, draw me nearer than before... take the blindness from my eyes, all my arrogance and pride..." Jesus was suddenly right there, seeing me, hearing me. These words expressed something I was not mature enough to know-- I was full of pride and selfishness. At the time, I don't think I could even connect it. I don't think I went to confession and said "pride"- but it was there in the way that song and others spoke to me. "Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord," we sang. "Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Your Face" "You are the only one I need and I bow all of me at Your feet." Simple words, simple melodies, easy to make harmonies, what more could you ask for?

Steve kept doing the songs "Yes, Lord" and "Awesome God" complete with hand motions. I was so sick of them by the end of the week- I am totally over the hand motion stage. But I watched the crowd and on Saturday there were only a few kids who didn't participate in it. So while I might be unimpressed with those songs, the fact that it got these kids fired up makes me happy. The way one of the girls said that she had sung out loud for the first time, and one of the guys said that he felt God's presence there during adoration with music, and he thinks he knows what God wants him to do with his life. Chills! I got chills! So that's my two cents about praise and worship. I think it being paired with adoration is a beautiful and powerful thing. I'm so thankful for it in its ability to touch hearts and bring them deeper. My friend's fiance is studying classical guitar. What he's really interested in is liturgical music. If chant is the music of the liturgy, how can we make it work. How can we incorporate music more into the liturgy, almost like a film score. It makes such a difference. My friend had been to an Easter Vigil where the (8) readings were complimented by a single flute in the background. She said it helped you so much to picture what was going on and enter into it. I'm sure a lot of people think that sounds terrible but I love it. I think there's so much to that.

"Faith becoming music is part of the process of the word becoming flesh…When the word becomes music, there is involved on the one hand perceptible illustration, incarnation or taking on flesh, attraction of pre-rational powers, a drawing upon the hidden resonance of creation, a discovery of the song which lies at the basis of all things. And so this becoming music is itself the very turning point in the movement: it involves not only the word becoming flesh, but simultaneously the flesh becoming spirit."
-Pope Benedict XVI

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