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Music in the Midst of Turmoil

by Judy Doyle  
5/29/2008 / Church Life

There was a time I had the energy of college students. It was about . . . oh, who cares about the number of years that have past. The Milliken University Chorale, directed by Dr. Guy Forbes, was preparing to present a musical concert deserving of an invitation to Carnegie Hall.

As I sat in our church's library guarding the luggage for approximately forty people, I was privy to their pre-concert rehearsal and all the instructions. It was an almost eerie experience; the young people were actually attentive. There was a dedication to music most young people do not have. Of course, the music is not RAP or HIP-HOP, rhythm and blues, jazz, or rock. Oh no, these young people were singing classical musical - you know, longhair stuff. And I was thoroughly enjoying it.

Yet, right in the middle of their rehearsal, something happened totally unexpected happened. On January 7, 2008 in Central Illinois, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning, not a watch, a warning. For this writer that was not a good thing. Not only am I the associate pastor here, but I've been training to respond to a variety of emergencies and disasters. Gosh, I hated interrupting their rehearsal. However, I was painfully aware of the need of safety. Suddenly I felt as if I was a police officer directing traffic.

"Go down these stairs to the basement. Go to the far end of the fellowship hall," I clipped my instructions. "Go down the hall to the double doors, at the bottom of the stairs turn right, turn right, turn right and go to the far end of the fellowship hall," I directed others.

The young people were respectful and orderly and not at all frazzled by the threatening weather. I, on the other hand, hate thunderstorms and my anxiety level always increases considerably when the tornado sirens are sounded. But that night forty plus young adults and their chaperones were safely tucked away in the basement fellowship hall. And the person with an almost palpable fear of tornadoes was sitting upstairs (in harm's way) guarding luggage and computers. Rather ironic, wasn't?

Finally, the warning was lifted and the rehearsal continued upstairs in the sanctuary. As this "old fogey" listened to their music, I found it inspiring. It inspired me spiritually, but it gave me a sense of comfort. The classics would continue to be sung, perhaps enjoyed by future generations because these young people loved music enough to dedicate themselves to it.

Yes, I know there are some folks who hate "that high church music." But God is in classical music as much as God is in the contemporary worship music. Yes, even I need to admit it, God is also in some RAP, HIP HOP, jazz, rhythm and blues, rock. It isn't the music, the words make music religious. If I was a betting person, I'd bet God would like any music that glorifies God.

I live in Central Illinois. Have enjoyed writing for over 20 years. I'm married, one son and daugher-in-law and one grand-dog. No grandchildren.

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