The year was 1992.
I was on a European concert tour with my college choir. We were preparing to sing mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Our director had pulled some strings and acquired the services of a 20 piece orchestra from the Vienna Symphony to accompany us. For a sacred music performer, it was the equivalent of the Super Bowl. However, as we were rehearsing in the early morning hours, I couldn’t help but think “what in the world am I doing here?” For a country boy from West Virginia, rasied on Fannie Crosby and cornbread, singing Latin to a bunch of Catholics was as foreign as wings on an elephant.
What’s worse, I can only imagine how few Austrians actually understood anything we were singing… save the priest perhaps, and he looked about as disinterested as possible.
Despite this, how many times have we sang a perfectly scriptural song… in English… to a congregation of red-blooded, baseball-watching, apple pie-eating Christians… and came away with the same feeling? Too often, we “go through the motions”. Oh not intentionally, but it happens.
I call it the zombie-driving principle. Have you ever driven for miles and all the sudden thought, “I have no idea how I got here?” We can do the same in our performance if we’re not careful.
Be on guard. Develop good habits like praying before each song you sing in front of your church. Pick out new music whenever possible. The next time someone compliments your song, and after you say “Praise the Lord” ;-), ask if they have a favorite they’d like to hear someday. You never know the blessing you can be to someone!
Above all else, let God use you!
And the next time I’m in Austria, I’ll stick with “Amazing Grace”.