It was the night before Christmas Eve 1977. I was all set to sing in the Choir for the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. And then it happened. The director, Mr. Kiger, took ill. There was no way he would be able to lead the choir for the biggest, most important service of the year. Mr. Kiger was my dear friend. He knew how much I loved to sing. He had given me the solo at the beginning of the Magnificat (Mary’s Song). That was a great honor. But what he gave me next, scared me to death. Death was a theme I was suddenly all to familiar with.
The death of God’s servant is the theme of Psalm 32, as well as the theme of penitence for sin. However, having worked through the death pangs the Psalmist had felt, he ended in thoughts of praise and rejoicing; themes which flow over into Psalm 33.
The heart of Psalm 33 is the idea that when our hope is in God and his promises, we have a song in our hearts. Music has been a part of Christian worship throughout the ages, from a capella Byzantine chant to the melodious harmonies of Cathedral Choir Anthems. Even in the Old Testament the people of God sang their praises. The Book of Psalms is the historic song book of God’s people.
Psalm 33 is prophetic when it speaks of a “new song”. God’s people had many songs. Since the days of the Exodus they had sung songs of deliverance. Many songs were written to accompany the worship of the Temple. But, as the Psalms reveal the Spirit of Messiah there comes a new song. It’s the song of the redeemed. No longer will God’s people sing in dirges of despair hoping for deliverance from the bondage of sin. All who put there hope in Jesus Christ as Savior, are redeemed.
The new song of the redeemed is “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah, He Reigns!” We can know, as the Psalmist says that, “…the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in His steadfast love” (Psalm 33:18). When Christ reigns in our hearts, we can have no fear. His love is a strong foundation that no one and nothing can ever shatter.
The choir at St. Matthew’s wasn’t a big choir, but the acoustics of the church were such that with the choir positioned in the back balcony the sounds wafted over the congregation as if from heavenly realms. Well, they usually wafted over the congregation in elegant splendor…but not Christmas Eve of ’77. That night the Choir had no director – but me. Mr. Kiger asked me to step in for him. I was terrified. I loved to sing but I couldn’t even read music. How was I going to direct? And I only had one night to practice. How was I going to be able to make sure the cut offs and entrances were right in rhythm?
Well, the music wasn’t beautiful that Christmas Eve. In fact, it wasn’t even close. But, it was a joyful noise unto the Lord. We all gathered to worship, and worship we did. The Psalms admonish God’s people to make a joyful noise (Psalm 100:1), so we did. I learned a great deal that night. I learned that rhythm is essential to the making of good music. But, I also learned that if we put our trust in God, He will see us through.
We got through the service that night. It wasn’t great. In fact, it probably still stands as the worst music ever in the history of St. Matthew’s. But somehow, I know that God smiled down on us. He taught us that He could make our hearts glad even when we didn’t see how He could. Have you ever had to lean on God to do something totally outside of your skill set? If not, just wait. You will. And when you do, remember, God’s eye is upon you. Put your hope in Him. Do your best and let God do the rest.
image credit: http://quotesgram.com/quotes-from-joyful-noise/