Monday, November 10, 2008

The clear ear

I’ve written before about singing, here—and I’ve already confessed that I’m no singer. I mean, I sing at church and around the house and some Christmas carols and such…but I’m not the person whom others recognize as “a singer.” And honestly, I’m mostly at peace with that. I am pretty pleased to simply be afforded the chance to sing in this life at all, especially because the whole diversion is a pretty recent venture and not something I ever envisioned myself doing—in other words, it's been a really nice surprise.

The problem is that I have a pretty good ear. I can hear when another person is singing right in key, can detect a nasally delivery within a measure or two, can even pick out the sharp or flat voice among a gathering of voices. I know it’s not just my egotistical imagination, because I was the unofficial “tuner” for my classmates all those years in band. My ear has been proven.

And therein lies the problem. I can read the music, even imagine the way it should sound by rehearsing it in my head sometimes… but when the sound issues forth from my lungs, it’s far inferior to that pretty preview that existed in my mind. Because I have the ear, I can clearly hear that I usually don’t have the voice. I am fully aware that my range is quite limited, that I sometimes sound foggy and strained. I know that I am vocally mediocre, possibly even challenged. And every now and then, I have a little pity party about it. (Don’t pretend you don’t do that too sometimes. ; )

I was singing in the car recently (don’t worry, I dropped the kid at preschool first so he wouldn’t be punished) and as I struggled to hit some notes, I was pondering—with a little bit of relief, and a touch of sadness—that I will likely never be asked to sing a solo. Anywhere. For any reason. (Karaoke doesn't count.) And a thought came into my head quickly and with certainty. It didn’t feel like my own thought, and here it is: “You sing best when you sing to Me. And each time you sing to Me, it’s a solo. No matter what’s going on around you. A solo for man is just that.”

And it’s true, that thought—it made me feel so much better. If I crave the approval of man, in any setting and for any reason, then I’ll get it—and that’s likely all I’ll get. But when I sing to that audience of One, I become a chorus of one as well. I can speak, and sing, only for myself—and that is all I need do. It’s been a very comforting thought for me, in light of some of what I suspect are politically-fueled weirdnesses in my church home. It’s nice to realize that I don’t need to be hindered by any of that, just like I never need to worry about not having a “solo.” He knows my every thought, He hears my every note—and if my purpose is genuine, then it's a sweet sound.

So, while my musical ear reveals my vocal shortcomings, it provides me with that true standard that I can work toward attaining; I know what I want to sound like. It’s kind of like the Holy Spirit in us. We need that “good ear,” that moral compass, because even while we fall short daily, we still know how our lives should look—we are fully aware of the potential for achievement. And every time we do something unto God, even something humble or small or seemingly unimportant, we sing a little solo of praise.

Sing to him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.
-Psalm 105:2

Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious!
-Psalm 66:2

1 comment:

Mel said...

And I wanted to say, Thank you to all the veterans out there. We are indebted in more ways than we'll ever know. Everybody, get yourself a Buddy Poppy and wear it with pride. Hug a vet. Hang your flag. And since we're talking about singing, let's all sing some patriotic songs!! Or just call my father on his cell phone... (Dad, does it still play Anchors Aweigh?)