|Pipe Organ at Knox College chapel|
Toronto School of Theology
I spent the past 2 weeks back in the classroom, taking an intensive summer course with my doctoral cohort. We started each day as one might expect at a seminary (though ought not take for granted): with prayer.
Coming from a variety of locations and a variety of faith traditions, we enjoyed a variety of worship styles and formats. One of the commonalities, however, was music. While we knew this from our time together last year, a guest to our class commented "Wow, you folks like to sing!"
We do like to sing. And sing we did.
Some of us have exceptional musical skills and talent, some (like myself) less so. Some have training, some do not. Sometimes we all hit the right notes, sometimes we did not.
One of the great gifts was the harmony that was created; as we each sang in our range and to our ability, the words began to be so much more than they had been before; the song evolved into so much more than any one of us alone could have hoped to accomplish.
We sang our worship, and God was present.
St Augustine of Hippo wrote "cantare amantis est" or "singing belongs to one who loves." This is true; one who is singing hymns ought not worry about having perfect pitch or rhythm or any of the rest of it. One who is singing ought to be focused on the gift of song: the gift being offered to the world, but also on the reception of the gift of music.
Augustine was indicating that when a song is of praise, the heart of the one who loves changes; the singer is no longer merely a conveyor of notes that can be captured on a page, but one who is expressing the perfect love from Love's divine source.
So I hope as we all sing our hymns this morning that we too are changed: embraced by the gift of one another as we join in harmony (both spiritual and musical!), delighting in joining with the transformed gift of love and Love that manifests in song.