catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 7 :: 2009.03.27 — 2009.04.10


More than a good story

Did you ever sit down to read a good story, and find your life changed, permanently?  I did, and I was only eleven years old.  My sister, ten-and-a-half years older and serious about her influence on her little sister, gave me a red book about two English children headed into a great adventure in the neighborhood of Picadilly Circus. 

I have to call it a red book because it was red, and I have no idea of the title or even the characters’ names.  What I do remember is a conversation that took place in the book about singing.  An adult told the girl that she should never sing a song that she would not pray, that songs were just prayers set to music.

I was stunned at that revelation and began to consider more carefully what I sang.  I was safe in church.  We still used the King James Bible and sang old slow hymns straight out of a worn brown hymnal, stray threads tempting to a child who could not understand all of the words the preacher used.  I was also pretty much safe at home.  My mother would not tolerate any of those silly songs adolescents sang to gross each other out. 

I even checked the idea out in the Bible, and the first mention I found of a song was in Exodus 15: 1; the words of that song sure sounded like a song of praise to God.  And I Chronicles 16:9 and 16:23 and, well, you could certainly pray most of the Psalms, straight out songs I’m told.

Over the years I forgot a lot of memory verses and Sunday school lessons, but I never forgot that idea, that what I sang reached the ears of God and said something to Him.  So, today, when a new song or chorus comes across the screen at church or in chapel, I read the words closely before I sing them. 

I teach in a college, and I will confess to you, that there have even been times there when I stood with the congregation, but no words came from my lips, though I do love to sing.  Sometimes I was still because to sing would be to weep, and though I could weep before the Lord, I wasn’t sure weeping in front of the student body was exactly good protocol.  I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day explaining or avoiding pitying glances.

Other times I was still because I wouldn’t sing something I couldn’t, or wouldn’t do – like dance before the Lord.  How could I sing that I was dancing before the Lord if all I was going to do was stand there still as a post?

And from time to time, I couldn’t sing a chorus because I wasn’t sure about the theology.  How could I pray to God something I didn’t believe or wasn’t certain was right?

So here I am with my own grandchildren, still ordering my music life around a children’s book, chosen because my sister thought it might be safe entertainment for her younger sibling. 

your comments

comments powered by Disqus