“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours…”
Tonight was the first time in three and a half years that I have sung with other people. It was joyous. It was beyond my expectations. It was a God-wink gospel moment.
Remember that old Nat King Cole song? “Smile when your heart is aching, Smile even though its breaking…” My life has sort of been like that for many reasons. When that little tick decided to share its bacteria with me, it changed parts of my body in many different ways. Energy levels, achy joints, weak immune system and…….no singing voice.
I whined about most of it, but I never mentioned the loss of my voice. It hurt too much to contemplate. It was my identity in so many ways, that I struggled with how I viewed myself in this new voiceless capacity. Funny, how one little aspect of our ego plays such a huge role in the perception of self.
“Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all…”
When I was a child, I always planned on being a dancer. I danced every where and loved how music could move your body in ways that it normally didn’t go. Then my knee blew out and never recovered its strength. Every time I tried to dance seriously, it would swell up and give out. After lots of prayer and tears, I decided G-d had a better plan, and I would find it. Losing my voice brought back many of those internal dialogues.
Long story short. I decided – once again – that G-d had a plan and started to move forward. As always, He did. The voice is not fully back as it was. It is different. My low register is LOW. Tonight, I was definitely singing tenor comfortably. There is a mid-range weakness and the high voice is not anywhere near the range I used to hit. But the voice is back. Best yet – I’ve recieved a new gift. I hear harmonizing notes in my head now and tonight – it was perfect. For you see – tonight I got to sing with my first gospel choir.
“Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things…”
I am not great at singing gospel. I may never be great at singing gospel, but I sure do love it. Bessie Smith, Paul Robeson. Mahalia Jackson. Della Reese. When you grow up with parents who listened to early blues and jazz, I think you get it by osmosis. College enlarged the desire as I got to attend churches and actually watch the Holy Spirit move through the gospel choir and into the audience.
The great thing is that – here in the South – I get to join a gospel choir. It is totally new. Not using sheet music. Not being told exactly what to sing. Listening to those around you and feeling the Holy Spirit just move everyone to sing a new note. I once attended a 7th Day Adventist Church in Columbus, OH. The preacher and choir were amazing. The preacher sang almost half of his sermon while the rafters shook with the choirs’ responses. But the main thing I remember from that sermon is that he said, Luciel (the evil one) could sing in 4-part harmony by himself before the fall and that was a main part of his pride that tripped him into falling. In the 40+ years since then, I’ve pondered that point often and tried not to let it trip me.
Gospel is all about praise. Gospel is all about being led by the Spirit of G-d. Gospel is totally out of my comfort zone, but then again, I guess that is the journey I am on this year. Camping out in a house. Learning to sing gospel with people who can lead me in prayer and worship in ways I’ve never experienced for myself. I’m hoping that I learn enough to join a gospel choir in heaven every now and then when I get there. And I’m for sure glad that I can lift up my voice unto the hills from whence cometh my help.
“In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.” 1 Chon 29:11-12