27 February 2019
Wisdom brings up her own sons,
and cares for those who seek her.
Whoever loves her loves life,
those who wait on her early will be filled with happiness.
Whoever holds her close will inherit honour,
and wherever he walks the Lord will bless him.
Those who serve her minister to the Holy One,
and the Lord loves those who love her.
Whoever obeys her judges aright,
and whoever pays attention to her dwells secure.
If he trusts himself to her he will inherit her,
and his descendants will remain in possession of her;
for though she takes him at first through winding ways,
bringing fear and faintness on him,
plaguing him with her discipline until she can trust him,
and testing him with her ordeals,
in the end she will lead him back to the straight road
and reveal her secrets to him.
If he wanders away she will abandon him,
and hand him over to his fate.
John said to Jesus, ‘Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.’
Anyone who is not against us is for us.
I was recently asked if I could help by singing at a wedding mass, just a week before the actual wedding. When I asked the bride why the last-minute arrangements, she said that the original choir she picked had some reservations about a few of the songs she had chosen. She said they were not confident that they could pull off two or three of them. In a nutshell, she ended up with 4 singers (myself the only male) and a pipe organist from the choir. I guessed that she wasn’t too fussed about the music and also learnt that the groom and his family were Protestants. “This is going to be interesting,” I thought to myself as I pulled up to the cathedral for the rehearsal two evenings before the wedding.
In the end, it all turned out well. The mass, celebrated by Msgr Vaz, was meaningful and his homily hit home. I sang ‘Ave Maria’ (it was my vocal exam song anyway) and we ended up not doing ‘Hallelujah’. At the end of the mass, as we chatted with the organist, we shared about how some of the songs were actually not usually done at weddings and why the original choir may have been a bit ‘hesitant’ as the only liturgical hymn was ‘We Remember’, which we did for communion.
As I drove home, I reflected on how we tend to get ourselves into a conundrum when choosing songs for Masses. For me, as long as the hymns fit the general theme of the gospel of the day, it shouldn’t matter whether they are liturgical or not. I know there are some choirmasters who would never pick a Don Moen song (for example) or something from Hillsong United. But at the end of the day, if they are songs that glorify God, then I don’t see how they can be inappropriate. Because if we are all worshipping with one heart and one voice, surely God will not nitpick.
I wonder if that is why some of our Christian brethren tend to think of us Catholics as ‘old fashioned’ and ‘traditional’. While I am absolutely for the rituals of the mass and all the strict traditions (which other religion can say that it celebrates the same sacraments in every country on each and every single day?), I hope that when it comes to our worshipping in song, we can be a bit more ‘relaxed’ so that we can truly sing from our hearts. After nearly 8 years in a music ministry that does P&W and constantly seeks to refresh our repertoire of songs, I have begun to understand the deeper intention of connecting through worship. That no matter how much one tries to hone his or her vocal technique, it is from within our hearts that true worship begins. As I continue on my learning journey in classical vocals and also begin another in leading worship, I wonder what doors He will open for me to step through and explore.
Brothers and sisters, the next time we attend a wedding at another church, take a glance over at the choir or worship leaders and see if they are singing from their hearts. You will certainly be able to tell very easily if indeed true joy is present in the singing.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Father, we ask you to always open up our hearts as we worship you at masses and in the privacy of our homes. Fill us with joy to sing out your praises.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for your gift of song and for the gift of our talented brothers and sisters who practice each week and sing at our places of worship.