Musing Grace

There is a significant amount of music that I simply cannot bring myself to enjoy, because even though I revel in diversity, I strive for personal excellence, [and] I truly believe that there is music of poor quality—far too much of it—right alongside the good music. —Harold M. Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith

"There is no screwing up in church," a kind bishop once reassured me as I, a substitute organist, apologized for a grossly under-prepared account of the service music. "We simply offer up to God whatever we have in us at the time."

And it's true—sincerity and truth are what make an offering holy. Ananias was struck dead not for the meager size of his gift to the church, but for cynically offering less than his all in purported service.

At the same time, vague notions of "sincerity" do not substitute for a commitment to quality. When the psalmist exhorts us to sing with all our skill to the Lord, surely it is with the presumption that the song itself is worth singing.

Loud Clashing Symbols

Praise him with trumpets;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with drums and dance;
praise him with strings and winds!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
—Psalm 150:3-6

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 1997
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