I have been blessed to receive much correspondence about the music I have written through the years. The comments, both accolades and admonitions, help inform my future writing and I am always grateful that someone cared enough to reach out.
In all my years of writing, the vast majority of these letters are directed at the deep emotion and ministry of the music. Only a few addressed themselves to the musical techniques or the poetic devices being incorporated in the text. When students write to me about “THE AWAKENING,” they never say, “Great ostinato” or “I loved that sequence of suspensions.” They almost always speak of the message behind the music and how, in the singing of the composition, their hearts we’re motivated and their spirits stirred. This pattern is consistent with many of the composers of sacred music with whom I have spoken. Sacred music does more than tickle the ears, it impacts the soul.
As we lead our church choirs we must not only move our musicians towards more expressive and excellent singing, but we must also connect the dots with the primary mission of all sacred music, sharing the word through song and awakening worship in those who we serve. This mixture of ministry and artistry builds a community of song that is more than just a joyful noise. Such a wondrous gift is music, lavish and extravagant, a precious passenger of great beauty and purpose for the journey of faith.