Sounding joy: Smoothly, sweetly, warmly, joyfully
Choral music often displays interpretive notes for the singers’ attention to suggest the tone or mood that is to be portrayed in that particular section. For example, the anthem that the St. Paul Chorale presented on November 14th, “All Creatures of our God and King,” directs the musicians to sing smoothly, sweetly, warmly, joyfully, or even with great joy! How comforting it is to not have any doubts as to the emotional message intended to be sent from the musical performance of this song! Chorale director, Nathan Wendt, suggested to the singers to imagine a place of total comfort and contentment that gives comfort and a feeling of well-being in interpreting the joyful mood. This message of joy is one of the foundations of our Christian faith.
As we enter into the church season of Advent, and consider the presence of joy, what leaps to mind might be “Joy to the World,” “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee,” or “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Thinking about what these familiar songs shared about joy, I noticed that they all brought the emotion of joy from a place that preceded that joy! Sadness, gloom, despair, or sorrow seems to be the absence of joy. We are lost in our sadness or sorrow and all of sudden, along comes joy and it’s all better! Joy? Yes, please. I’ll take two!! Joy isn’t earned or ordered from Amazon. It’s a gift from God. We didn’t do anything to deserve it and all God asks of us is to accept it as a gift. Advent prepares us to be ready to accept that gift and to appreciate the love that was behind that gift. We sing the songs and put up the decorations. We join our friends and families to share gifts of love and togetherness. We show our gratitude by our acceptance of gifts of Joy, Grace, and Love. And then, we turn around and share those same gifts with each other!
This Advent, unlike last year’s Covid-suppressed Advent; we are able to reach out to our neighbors and to share this joy that has been shared with us. We have been given the opportunity and the ability to accept this gift and to shape it into the love of Christ for us all. We can certainly present this gift smoothly, sweetly, warmly, joyfully, and even with great joy! So, the next time we stand and sing “Joy to the World,” let’s remember that we have all been given God’s gift to us of our savior, Jesus Christ.
Len Bruce moved to Bettendorf from Camanche, Iowa in 2006. He is retired from the Camanche School District and lives with his wife, Joan; his great granddaughter, Ofie; and the family’s new rescue dog, Milo.