This post is about worship music. Really. It just takes a while to get there.
When I was 10 years old I landed an unusual gig for a 10-year old — I was the pianist’s page turner for a musical that ran for (I’m pretty sure…) 6 weeks (plus 3-4 weeks of rehearsals – as I remember it) at a local summer stock theater near where I grew up. The venue wasn’t big enough for a pit orchestra, so the production had a piano as its performance accompaniment.
How I got the gig as the page turner for the pianist, I don’t remember. I’d had a few years of piano lessons and could (kind of, at least for a 10-year old) read music “okay”-ish. I guess the other thing(s) I had going for me were that I was only 10 years old so I didn’t take up much room, and I was capable of sitting still that long and staying awake that late every night. (*shrug*)
I recently thought of a song from that musical for some reason so I wandered over to YouTube to see if the song I was thinking of was on YouTube. One thing led to another and I eventually clicked on the audio marked “Overture.” To my surprise, it was the Overture being played on a piano.
Well … I hardly know how to describe it, but many years & lots of life later, as soon as I heard the 1st 3 notes of the Overture on piano, my whole existence snapped to attention in a different realm of consciousness. I could smell the smell of that tiny orchestra pit, I could almost see the fingers of the pianist whose pages I’d been turning, and I still remembered exactly where those page turns were … it wasn’t a “thinking brain” thing, it was more that my body knew exactly when I needed to stand up and lean forward to catch the corner of the page so I’d be ready to turn it a measure later. I still remember how far ahead my pianist read, so how many measures before the end of the page I needed to turn it.
And my brain snapped into that, “Okay, here we go …” state of mind … when you’re about to begin a 2+ hour performance that you’ve done lots of times already … that, “Nothing else matters; for the next 2 hours you are 100% here…” state of being where nothing else touches your consciousness while you’re in it.
I honestly hadn’t thought for a minute about that summer gig in decades … and yet it was as though the last performance could have been yesterday.
So that’s what led me to think about worship music.
There’s even scientific evidence (note the field of music therapy) that humans process music in different ways than we process words or pictures or even human emotions. It’s how God designed us … which is of course why it makes so much sense for Him to use music to reach us in so many ways — not only throughout the Bible but also in our worship services today. Music isn’t just something we listen to, or hear, or sing, or perform. It changes us directly. (Note to self: “In His image” – delve more into the idea of God’s relationship to music some day.)
I think my discovery of my whole-soul response to the music from that long ago page-turning gig was also a little clue about how we can be molded by music inadvertently, including outside of Christ centered worship services.
I’m thinking that the ability of music to directly touch – and alter – the soul is something we need to be aware of.