Since I retired from my position as parish musician (for the English language masses), no one has been called to fill the spot. Perhaps no one has answered the call. Who knows? The result is the same: a cappella music led by the priest, or possibly at communion by me from the pew. Of late, we have been learning/singing a new Gloria at mass. This learning is done by having the Gloria played for us during mass, while we join in as we learn it.
The congregation as done really well with the refrain. But, the “verses” are a problem. As I try to learn to sing this way, I am struggling. I look at the notes on the page. I attempt to hear them sung. I try to follow. Fail. There are sections that I just can’t get. This is due, in part to the fact that I am surrounded by others struggling the same way. Some notes come easily while others, well, we are usually in the chord, but have no sense of the actually melody. And, I can’t pick out the melody from the speaker because I can’t actually hear it and I don’t trust the person next to me, with his strong baritone that follows the person next to him (me) for accuracy. I’m sure I will eventually get it, but not without a struggle.
Learning a new song might be a perfect metaphor for learning to live a life centered in God/Christ. First I must hear the melody… maybe hear it many times. Then, I begin to try to sing along. It’s not going to stick if I don’t jump in and try it out with my own voice. That might work for others, but it doesn’t work for me. When I have trouble getting it right, I have to listen once again and try once again to match what I hear. I can’t possibly lead others, and expect them to even approximate the right notes until I have made them my own. Only then, can I pass on the melody and share the song.
It seems that process has a parallel in other areas of my life. I must listen to the song of creation, the song of the Trinity, the melody of being loved without bounds by God. Once I have heard that song, then I must try it out in my own voice. I must sing of creation, and practice the melody of love. I miss notes. I go back to listen to the song. I try it out again. Whether I get it completely right or not, then I can pass it on to others. I can only share it the way I have learned it, so I behooves me to listen and attempt to sing the right notes. And, only when the melody is solid, is it safe to harmonize. (And I do love harmony, especially in music).
In my Cursillo friendship group, we review our week together by looking at the last week through 3 lenses:
Piety/Holiness: Opening up to hear the new song through prayer, sacraments, listening
Study/Formation: Learning the notes; practicing the notes; studying the music to make it a part of my life
Action/Evangelization: Singing the song so that others can learn it.
Music: the song of my life.