My love for singing started at a young age when I got the "lead" role as Mother Nature in the 5th grade play - big time now! From there, I took voice lessons and was in involved in concert choir, chamber choir, music camps, All State Choirs, musical theater, basically anything I could get my - er, voice? - on. Since it wasn't my chosen major in college I sadly didn't do much singing in those years, other than karaoke. :) After college I would sing in weddings of friends or family whenever asked, and have done close to 30 to date - I love using my gift in that way! Aside from that (and still karaoke, of course) I haven't really used my voice in front of others or in a choral setting since high school.
I've always known that I loved singing, I've always recognized that it was a gift from God and NOT my own talent, but it wasn't until after those high school choral years that I realized it was my way of connecting with God. Those high school years were when I really honed my craft, thanks to my choir teacher and mentor Ms. Sagen. I learned to stretch my range, to read music, be on pitch, sing harmonies and melodies, proper breath support, all the technical parts of singing. I always sang with my heart and truly FELT the words of any piece I was singing. However, it wasn't until after high school that I began using my voice to worship Him and felt the difference between singing and worship. I suppose I went to youth group and sang the songs and had some Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman on cassette tape as a kid, but didn't connect the dots until a later age. I believe it was at a Vespers at Bethel college when visiting Betsy one weekend when I heard the songs so powerfully throughout the auditorium and sang my heart out. I was using my gift to praise the Giver of all and I realized it was my way of thanking Him. Some people pray, some journal, some fellowship, some dig into the Word and while I do all of the above, the way I worship the best and feel the closest to God is through music - through using my voice to honor and praise Him.
Last night I was invited to be a part of the worship practice at church and I cannot begin to explain what an uplifting experience that was. Since college, I have been a part of various churches and always loved the worship part of the service best. When Tyge and I found a church that we went to regularly after getting engaged the first thing I wanted to do be a part of the worship team, using my voice and serving God in that way. My tryout process at that church was very disheartening to say the least and I began to get almost bitter towards the end of our time there. Looking back, I know that was Satan attacking me and trying to get be to believe lies that I wasn't good enough, but it was a hard experience all the same. I so badly desired to use my God given talents to praise Him, and though I tried more times than one, was never "accepted". Worship almost became hard for me to do - it's wrong and hard to explain, but that's how I felt at the time.
So when Tyge and I found our current church and started regularly attending, I again felt the nudge to try out for the worship team. This experience was night and day different and I felt a connection with the leader right away. As I said in my last 3TT post, I was put on a long term sub list (they don't just add new members right away) and invited to last night's practice - I was even already asked to sing this weekend, but can't - bummer! So last night I went to practice, having prepared the songs ahead of time, but not knowing what to expect. I was very excited but also nervous. Would I be invited to sing? Would I just watch? Would I remember how to read music? Would I forget how to harmonize? Would I know how to again follow a director in a group setting? I can say without hesitation, it all came back to me. Like that. I opened my mouth to sing the first worship song and my heart didn't stop smiling the entire practice. I felt so connected to God, so on fire for Him, so ALIVE. It was an experience that I am so grateful for and even if I don't get invited to sing at a Sunday service again anytime soon, it was so redeeming to know that I belong singing for Him, if that makes sense...
Since connecting my love for music with worshiping the One who created it in me, my love (for both!) has deepened even more. Any given song can move me to tears! Even watching the Sing Off I sometimes get emotional, just listening to the notes and way they fit together and they way it sounds. I can feel goose bumps all over my body when I hear an amazing performance, whether it be worship or otherwise. And sometimes when I'm singing my heart out praising Him, I get a hitch in my throat and can't continue. It's hard to put into words my love for music, but it's a deeply ingrained part of me. It has been for as long as I can remember, and I truly believe that music will never die in me - my spirit will forever sing.
The Awakening (as sung by the SWACDA Collegiate Honor Choir):
"I dreamed a dream, a silent dream of a land not far away ,where no bird sang, no steeples rang, and teardrops fell like rain. I dreamed a dream; a silent dream. I dreamed a dream of a land so filled with pride that every song, both weak and strong, withered and died. I dreamed a dream. No hallelujah; not one hosanna! No song of love, no lullaby. And no choir sang to change the world. No pipers played, no dancers twirled. I dreamed a dream; a silent dream. Awake, awake! Soli deo gloria! Awake, Awake! Awake my soul and sing, the time for praise has come. The silence of the night has passed, a new day has begun! Let music never die in me; forever let my spirit sing! Wherever emptiness is found let there be joy and glorious sound. Let music never die in me; forever let my spirit sing! Let all our voices join as one to praise the giver of the sun! Awake, awake! Let music live!"