When In Our Music God Is Glorified
The poignant lyric of Fred Pratt Green is the text of the benedictory sending song that the Tennessee Ladies Chorus use in closing their concerts, as they did Sunday night closing the concert of worship music with Tulip Grove Baptist Church in Old Hickory. When setting the lyric to new music thinking of this benedictory purpose I wanted the piece to serve as a means of underscoring that we musicians wanted our music to serve the purpose of glorifying Him, not our music, and certainly not ourselves. I hope the somewhat understated music score helps communicate that message. As a matter of spiritual dynamic, however, this purpose is likely served more by the clear intention (meaning) of the singers. For those that may not know this rich text, her is the first stanza, which is all our TLC setting includes:
When in our music God is glorified
And adoration leaves no room for pride,
It is as though the whole creation cried
What is praised here is not music. It is God. It does not say when we try, but when He is glorified. Pride is dwarfed by the overpowering adoration of the Creator – Giver God, Who has made possible not only our music-making, but even the adoration itself and our approach to offer it to Him as well. More reason for thankfulness and adoration. We may not summons all of creation, but we connect as though the whole creation cries (with us), “Alleluia!”
I cannot see into their hearts, but I get the very strong sense from our TLC singers that this is their heart, their intention. I am continually and deeply humbled at the opportunity to stand before our Tennessee musicians in times of concerted worshipful praise. I recognize the efforts made just to “get there,” given from whence all the singers have come. The sisterly spirit is palpable with display of Christian hospitality. Part of the experience is certainly music-making, and that is certainly made more beautiful by this Christian spirit.
The time of worship at Tulip Grove Baptist Church was rich with meaning and significance. While some may evaluate primarily by numbers of people in the congregation, I choose to make assessment based on a more holistic valuation. Appraising otherwise might miss the looks of response on the faces of those among the congregation with tearful eyes, graceful smiles, or concerned expressions. Over-emphasis on expedience might cause one to scurry away following the service, and miss out on the story from a pastor of a “turn around” church who attended the concert accompanied by ten children with whom the church intends to begin a children’s choir. Haste might miss the words of another pastor who simply stated, “my spirit was thirsty for this…you just don’t know what a blessing this music has been for me.”
Responses like these indicate to me that ministry has taken root in the hearts, minds, and spirits of those attending. I know ministry takes place among those making the music for praise, as it certainly did in the director as well.
I give thanks for the privilege of being part, and pray that God, and God alone is glorified in our music.