When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, so many lessons for my Christian walk are brought to mind!
First, may I say that this collection of hymn arrangements, In Remembrance are absolutely beautiful. (Dan Forrest has also put out a CD by the same name, and includes all the pieces in this book.) At first glance, they don’t look to be that difficult. There aren’t the tedious running arpeggios that you find in Fay Lopez’s arrangements (also beautiful, just difficult!). It just doesn’t look as though there are that many notes; HOWEVER, Dr. Forrest says plenty with few notes! He manages to sneak in little counter-melodies all over the place, and unless you really practice, they will be missed, and the music loses a lot of meaning!
He also uses beautiful mixtures of harmony, creating wonderful splashed of musical color! Anyone with a bit of piano skill can play this music, but unless you really pay attention to every note, a lot will be missed! For example, it always fascinates me that by changing one note, an F chord is now an a minor chord–big difference in the key of F! The Tonic (I) or key note chord becomes the minor Submediant (vi) chord! If I play the F chord, it will sound alright, but if I play it correctly as an a minor chord–BIG DIFFERENCE!
But then I think, is it really a big difference to the average listener? I can hear you out there shouting, “No! I don’t even know what you’re talking about!” Well, I suppose that’s true; however, who am I playing this offertory for anyway? Is it for me, or for the congregation, or my Lord Jesus, or all of the above? Obviously,the answer is: all of the above.
There are times when I wonder if it’s really worth all the practicing. I mean, if we have seventy-five people on a Sunday, we’re thrilled! My heart continually reminds me of two things:
- All those dear folks in the pews that I love so much deserve to receive my best.
- My wonderful Lord and Savior is the primary receiver of my worship, and He deserves my best!
But there is another lesson to be learned. As I practice and study and analyze, I gain a better understanding of the music, AND I love it more!!! You know where I’m going–all too true about the Word and the One who gave it to us!!! The more we read and study and analyze the Bible, the more precious it becomes!
The practicing enables me to play with confidence; but more than that, it enables me to put my heart into the music. Reading God’s Word enables me to live with confidence: but more than that, it enables me to put His heart into my life!
GREAT VERSE FOR PIANISTS: “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight” Psalm 144:1
GREAT VERSE FOR LIFE: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should hew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” 1 Peter 2:9
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Tom MacAvoy, pastor | Steam Valley Bible Church