|by David S. Lampel
God gifted three people in the Lampel family with singing voices. Mom was a soprano in the choir, and, in her young-adult years, a favorite soloist in the congregation.
My brother was in every choir while growing up, and went early into the adult choir. Later, in college, he studied voice. And I passed through all those same choirs in the church, and remember fondly the elderly ladies who would choose a spot in their pew so as to hear my voice during the singing of the hymns. Yes, God was generous to three members of our singing family.
Then there was Dad.
One of my strongest, most vivid recollections of childhood worship services in the old Baptist Temple on Second Street is of my dad singing hymns. This memory springs immediately to mind whenever I am around people who will not participate in the singing of hymns, claiming they haven't a voice for singing.
Dad had no voice for singing. He may have been singing the same words, but the 16-tone discordant melodies that sprang from his lips bore no relationship whatsoever with what others around him were singing. If we were all reading the notes from off the printed page, surely Dad was speaking in tongues.
In addition, Dad had a peculiar, physical way of singing. He could not keep his right hand still. From the opening measure, his hand (with palm flat and fingers aligned) would wave in rhythm at his side, keeping a steady--if not wholly accurate--beat until the final "Amen."
I confess that back then--back when I was young and pews were made of hard wood--I was more than a little embarrassed by my dad's singing. At the time, I wished he would respect the difficulty we were all having staying on the correct note while his more alien notes blared in our ears. I desperately wished he would tone it down a little so that God wouldn't be distracted from hearing our more pleasing, melodious sounds. But then, that was back when I was an idiot.
Now I realize that of the two of us, Dad's song was probably the one making it all the way up to heaven and the ears of our God. You see, Dad sang from his heart--full-throated, with abandon, from his very soul. And that's the sound that is pleasing to God. Just as God's vision is unique, seeing people differently than man, so He also hears people in a way all His own. When God looks upon an individual, His gaze is not distracted by surface trappings, by artifice and appearance, but it burrows deep, all the way to the heart. Just so, when God listens for the uplifted song, He listens not for pristine tonality, for melodic purity, but for the stirrings of a truthful and sincere heart.
Maybe Dad realized that there are no excuses for not lifting our voice in praise. Maybe he realized that no trying circumstance, no disappointment, no peculiar arrangement of vocal chords is reason to deny God His adoration. Maybe Dad understood that God honors honesty over beauty, discordant clarity over magnificent ambiguity.
Or maybe Dad just loved his God.
From Aspects, by David S. Lampel. Used by permission.
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