I spent some time Saturday night buying and downloading backing tracks for worship songs. We have one or two musicians in our small church but I wanted a just-in-case option to cover the times when they were working or sleeping off the early mornings of Street Pastoring. I felt a need to sing something before we moved into the word.
The website was generous enough to allow me a taste of the track just to see if I liked the arrangement or not. On the basis of what I heard, I purchased four songs. They were a combination of hymns and new songs but not those that jumped between octaves or had complicated melodies. I tracked down the lyrics and printed off enough copies for people not to need to share.
There was an absence of guitars as people arrived so I concluded it was unlikely there would be any singing. So there I was with my lyric sheets and my computer ready to play the tracks ready to jump in.
I was aware that I hadn’t had the chance to actually sing the songs through beforehand. I hadn’t listened carefully to the introduction to see when we were supposed to come in. I didn’t know how many times we could sing the verses and the choruses before the end came. I hadn’t rehearsed so in the end I just bottled it and kept quiet. We never sang. We talked and prayed and dived into the word – but we didn’t sing.
I am glad, in some ways, that we didn’t use my downloaded backing tracks. They were nice but two of them were just too high. They were in the key of ridiculously soprano. Dropping an octave didn’t work. I struggled to reach the notes. One of them was just too fast. There were a lot of words in a line, and they did fit in, but there was no breathing space in a line. One was just right. Sorry, it sounds like I am having a Goldilocks moment.
I sang my way through the songs using the backing tracks this afternoon. I was in need of serious time with God – not SERIOUS time, although there were serious moments. God told me, in no uncertain terms, that I’d lost my sense of gratitude and was a very grumpy person to be around. My lack of gratitude was beginning to stain everything I was trying to do. I needed to get sorted and it seemed like singing the songs I had set apart was a good idea.
I decided to check the songs out on youtube to see if singing with the rest of the cyber congregation was any better.
I sang my way through “Amazing Grace” and “Purify my heart”. Then something curious happened in the middle of “Indescribable”. I sing but wouldn’t claim to be a singer. I can sometimes sing nice, but more often than not I sing slightly flat. I comfort myself that scripture says sing joyfully – not tunefully. In the middle of the song I realised that I wasn’t singing but my soul was! There was a clear distinction between my singing, which was adequate, and my soul, which was amazing.
I don’t really know how to explain it, but I stopped singing to listen to my soul sing. The words were the same. I didn’t get creative with the lyrics. The melody was the same. I didn’t launch myself into harmonies. The sound of my soul was something very different.
I haven’t heard my soul sing in a long time. I have sung often – but that was just me. It wasn’t my soul. The way my soul sings draws all of me in. My mind isn’t looking the other way. My ears are not checking our whether I am singing flat. My eyes are not scanning ahead and my brain isn’t making any connections to other songs, Bible verses or relevant experiences. My soul silenced my self.
I was totally caught up in worship. My soul just sang to God. I was in some other place, hands lifted up and tears falling down.
And then my soul’s song ended. There was a sigh and then silence and a deep, deep sense of satisfaction.
All of me smiled.
The soul’s song is precious to God. It’s a song that He listens out for. It’s a song the, sadly, He seldom hears. Self gets in the way and it all becomes just karaoke in the end.