On The Right Page

My heart is steadfast, God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing, yes, I will sing praises. (Psalms 57:7 WEB)

For many years I worked in the church as a worship leader. At times others would help out and alternate but mostly I led the services for over ten years. The advantage of such a long period of service was forming close relationships with accompanists, special musicians and the church staff. After a few years I was very comfortable with both Cindy (the choir accompanist) and Jane who played for the worship services. This was a time when most church music came from the hymnal and praise choruses were accompanied by the piano.

Each Sunday morning I would stand beside the quarter-grand piano as Jane, and sometimes Cindy or another pianist checked out the hymns for the morning. Our goal was to insure we used the same tempo and appropriate dynamics for each piece of praise to God. With this out of the way I could lead the service without the necessity of looking over to the piano to provide cues or directions. God worked with us to make things run smoothly, most of the time.

One morning Jane and I discussed the hymns. The timing was this for this hymn and yes there was an unwritten fermata I would insert into that hymn. We knew where we were going and how to get from one to the next. Jane played the end of the last hymn for the service and I sat down and we waited for the service to begin.

I stepped up to the podium, asked the congregation to rise and turn to hymn such and such then waved my hand to set the time and listened as Jane played the last line of the hymn for the introduction. I followed along to confirm the right melody. My hands were lifted to start everyone simultaneously. We sang the first few words and I realized something was terribly amiss. I listened to the next phrase. I was singing the same words and melody as the congregation. Jane, on the other hand, was playing a totally different melody.

I signaled for the congregation to stop singing as Jane stopped playing and turned to see what was the matter. After I sauntered over to the piano Jane and I discovered the problem. I started to laugh and took a moment to regain my composure. Then I stepped back to the podium. It was one of those one in a million events. The last line of the last hymn for the morning was almost identical to the last line of the first hymn. When Jane and I completed our routine walk through the hymns she forgot to turn back to the first hymn. So, I heard the right introduction, the congregation heard the right introduction, Jane played the right introduction, but it was the wrong page on the hymnal.

We both laughed as Jane flipped back to the correct page in the hymnal. With renewed vigor the entire congregation sang the correct hymn with the correct melody and the remainder of the service went smoothly. Jane and I found it to be a humorous for years to come.

Sometimes we find our Christian life starting on one note and suddenly lost in another melody. We have to laugh, seek God’s face and start again with renewed vim and vigor for His calling. When the master director gets our attention the music is glorious harmony between our walk and God’s direction.

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