The most remarkable thing that happened today didn’t happen at church, although it happened in a church.
VOICES of Kentuckiana practices in the basement of Central Presbyterian Church. This Sunday the composer of one of the songs in the spring concert, Harry Pickens, came to rehearsal to listen to the progress we were making on the song, and to share some performance advice.
All his advice was about bringing the feeling to the music, we could say the MUSIC to the music. At one point he said “The music isn’t the notes on the paper, the notes are just the symbolic representation of …” the real music. What we really mean by “music” is something else, something living, moving feeling, something that is in us …
That music, what music really is, the notes just indicate, are merely a guide, a pointer, to that …
This idea makes the notes something like the sacraments: the outward, visible signs of an inward, invisible grace.
I have been in choir rehearsals where the director said “Now it’s starting to sound like music” or “Now we’re making music …” But I’d never heard anyone say this in precisely this way before.
With music, that inward, invisible grace can be ex-pressed, “pressed out,” by per-forming it.
According to the etymological dictionary, to per-form is to “provide” or “furnish” [whatever is necessary to complete or accomplish something] “through, throughout, thoroughly, entirely, utterly” – that is, “by means of” whatever is involved in the performance. With music, the combined actions of reading, understanding, rehearsing, and “making” the music come together and put whatever is being represented by those “symbolic representations” we sometimes call music into a form that someone else can hear, share, be affected by – what we really mean by music.
But … not only with music …
The church’s sacraments also need ex-pression, per-formance.
We can’t just sing the notes. We actually need to … make music.