Musica Sacra: The Church Musician in You

By Bethany Johnson

You know who you are: the musician fervently practicing in your room when no one else is listening. The musician fighting to perfect those precious sounds and find new ways to set them free. The musician whose talent is a bit rusty and unfortunately neglected, yet still there. There is something for every musician--a secret that we musicians must acknowledge.
And you, yes, you--the reader whose music skills are lacking and who are now considering clicking the back arrow on your browser, with the assumption that this article provides no clear implications for your life whatsoever--you are part of the secret, too, so don't feel left out!

There is a musician inside each of you. You've been caught tapping your pencil in the library to the beat of the music streaming through your headphones. You've sung those famous pop songs in the shower, in the car, and in videos with friends. You've picked up a harmonica or ukulele to discover that inner voice of harmony and rhythm. Don't deny it. You are a musician. And that's a good thing!

However, music is misused when the world teaches us its own theology apart from God's Word. Too often are we swayed by the princes of this age and swept away with the passions of our flesh. Too often do we trust in the music that teaches us false notions apart from the truth and that honors self-worth apart from Christ. Too often do we neglect the beauty of music found in the liturgy and hymns that proclaim the words of Christ and carry them to our ears.

And what about you, the well-known musician, seeking glory for yourself through your talents? What about you, the musician who would rather boldly sing in the car yet utter no song of praise in church? As sinners, we develop pride through our efforts and glorify the means that help us attain self-gratification and accomplishment. As sinners, we fall short of the glory of God by our vain measures to succeed, and we fail once again by satisfying ourselves instead of serving our neighbor.

But here's where the real secret comes out. There is a church musician inside every single one of you, struggling to be present in the community of believers centered around God's Word. As God's child, it is a natural response to sing about what He has done. When the Israelites safely crossed the Red Sea, they responded with a song of thanksgiving to God. Zachariah sang what is known as the "Benedictus," and Mary sang what is known as the "Magnificat," both of which proclaimed what God has done and continues to do for our salvation. The liturgy and hymns that present the Gospel to us also beckon us as God's baptized children to sing the faith, whether we are a young child confessing "Jesus Loves Me this I Know," or an adult seeking comfort in the words "Salvation Unto Us Has Come."

The Gospel comes to us extra nos, meaning "from outside of us," just as music enters our ears to calm our sadness and turn it into joy. Luther said that next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. It comes to us as a gift, just like the Gospel. Through faith, music is our prayer for peace, our bold confession, and our desperate plea for mercy that cries out, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."

Because of Jesus' death on the Cross for our salvation, we are free to serve our neighbor in our many vocations. Just as God has given us vocations in the workforce and at home, He has offered many possibilities in the church to use our talents for His glory and for our neighbor. As musicians, the possibilities are endless. We are free to bring out that dusty violin, warm up that glorious voice for the choir, ring some bells, or even utilize our keyboard skills to learn the organ. There is no stage or spotlight for musicians in the Church. Our humble abode is in the back, from which God's music is directed toward the message of Christ on the Cross.

Even if you are in the pew, you have the vocation to sing God's Word that the musicians in the back, specifically the organist, do not always have the chance of singing. The words sung by the congregation of believers enter the ears of musicians and proclaim to them God's love through Christ.

We are all part of the Body of Christ, partaking in the Gifts of God and singing as a witness in faith to one another. With the whole company of the heavenly host, we can join together with our voices and instruments, praising God and saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God of Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Hosanna in the highest." May God bless you as you sing and play music to His Holy Name!

Bethany Johnson is the kantor at St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church in Topeka, Kansas. She is married to Kyle, and they have two sons.
 

This article was originally published in the summer 2013 issue of Higher Things Magazine.

Related Posts

Recent

Archive

 2021
 January
Reflections: January 1, 2021This Just In: The Ultimate ResolutionReflections: January 2, 2021Reflections: January 3, 2021Reflections: January 4, 2021Video Short: January 5, 2021Video Short: January 4, 2021Reflections: January 5, 2021Reflections: January 6, 2021Video Short: January 6, 2021Under the Cross: Don't Look at the ListReflections: January 7, 2021Video Short: January 7, 2021Video Short: January 8, 2021Reflections: January 8, 2021Dean's List: The Catechism Really Is for YouReflections: January 9, 2021Reflections: January 10, 2021Reflections: January 11, 2021Video Short: January 11, 2021Helpful Things: Fundraising Essentials FOR YOUReflections: January 13, 2021Video Short: January 12, 2021Reflections: January 12, 2021Video Short: January 13, 2021Reflections: January 14, 2021Video Short: January 14, 2021Under the Cross: You Don't Belong to This WorldReflections: January 15, 2021Video Short: January 15, 2021Reflections: January 16, 2021Reflections: January 17, 2021Reflections: January 18, 2021Video Short: January 18, 2021This Just In: Martin Luther King, Jr.--The Man Who Had a DreamReflections: January 19, 2021Video Short: January 19, 2021Dead Christians You Should Know About: Saint SebastianReflections: January 20, 2021Video Short: January 20, 2021Video Short: January 21, 2021Reflections: January 21, 2021Reflections: January 22, 2021Reflections: January 23, 2021Video Short: January 22, 2021Dean's List: Jesus Hits the Spot!Reflections: January 24, 2021Reflections: January 25, 2021Reflections: January 26, 2021Video Short: The Conversion of St. PaulHelpful Things: Effective Fundraising Through Midweek MealsVideo Short: Suffering Doesn't Mean God Doesn't Love YouReflections: January 27, 2021Video Short: Woke Wednesday: Karma, Karma, KarmaVideo Short: Abortion and the Church's WorkReflections: January 28, 2021Reflections: January 29, 2021Video Short: What Goes On In Your Pastor's Mind About Closed CommunionFoundations: You Need Your Pastor More Than EverReflections: January 30, 2021Reflections: January 31, 2021

Categories

Tags

1 Cor 11 1 John 10th Commandment 1525 1Tim 2 2000 2002 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021AD 20th birthday 2nd Adam Jesus 2nd Commandment 3rd Article 3rd commandment 3rd day of wedding 40 days 4th commandment 5th Commandment 8th Commandment 9/11 95 Thesis 9th commandment Abraham Absolution Acts 1 Acts 9 Acts Adam Adiaphora Advent Age of Accountability Albrecht Peters All Hallows Eve Alpha and Omega Ambrose Amen-I beleve Amen American Andrew Anointed One Apology Apostles Creed Apostles' Creed Areopagus Ascension Day Athens Augsburg Augustian monk Augustine Babylonians Bach Baker Bamsch Barabbas Beatitudes Beginning and End Benediction Benedictus Best Friend Jesus Bethany Bethel Bethesda Bethlehem Bible study Boaz Bondage of the Will Book of Life Book of Mormon Book of Prayer Bread of Life Buddha C.S. Lewis CDC COVID-19 COVID Caesar Calling Calvary Canaanite woman Canaan Capernaum Castillero Catholic Cath Changed form Chestfeeding Chief Sheperd Chief Shepherd Christ Jesus Christ crucified Christ death Christ fills repentance Christ raised Christ righteousness Christ the King Christ's precious blood Christ\'s precious blood Christ\\\'s precious blood Christ\\\\\\\'s precious blood Christian Church Christian Science Christological Christology Church Communion Compline Concordia Constantine Coram Deo Corinthians Corinth Corrow Creator Creeds Cross of Christ Cross of Jesus DCYSKNA DNA Daniel Dan Dare to be Lutheran Date to Be Lutheran David's decendant David\'s decendant David\\\'s decendant David Dawkins Deborah Diet of Worms Divergent Divine Service Dorothy Sayers Dr Seuss Drosendahl Dying to Live Earth Day Eastern Sages/Gentiles Ecclesiastes Eden Ehrhard Eighth Commandment Elijah Elisha Elvis Emmanuel Enlightenment Ephesians 2 Ephesians 3 Ephrath Epiphany=Gentile Christmas Esau Espinosa Eternal Son Eucharist Evening Prayer Eve Eyes on Jesus Ezekiel Ezkiel Father Fenker Fibbing Fifth Commandment First Article First Commandment Fisk Flood Following the Star Formula of Concord Fourth Commandment Fourth Petition France Frederick Friedich Wyneken Friend of Sinners From Above Ft Wayne seminary Gabriel Garden Gen Z Genesis Germany German Gideon Gifts of God Given God Helps God forgives sin God hides himself God of grace God of mercy God on the cross God saves losers God saves God the Father God who saves God works good from evil God-man God's Church God's I will God's Law God's Word God's justice God's kingdon God's nos create trust God's plan God's sight God's will God's wisdom God's work God\'s I will God\'s Law God\'s Word God\'s justice God\'s kingdon God\'s plan God\'s sight God\'s will God\'s wisdom God\'s work God\\\'s I will God\\\'s Law God\\\'s Word God\\\'s justice God\\\'s kingdon God\\\'s plan God\\\'s sight God\\\'s wisdom God\\\'s work God\\\\\\\'s Law God\\\\\\\'s Word God\\\\\\\'s kingdon God\\\\\\\'s wisdom God\\\\\\\'s work God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Word God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s wisdom God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s work God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s work Gods grace God Gof's glory Gof\'s glory Gof\\\'s glory Gof\\\\\\\'s glory Golgotha Goliath Good Friday Good News Good Sheperd Goodman Goodness of the Lord Gospel = forgiveness Gospel requires hearing Grace Greeks Greek Hagar Halloween Han Solo Happy Lent Haughty Heavenly Father Hebrews Hebrew Here I Stand Hiding Place Hill His Name Hogwarts Hokana Holly Innocents Holocaust Holy Baptism Holy Communion Holy Land Holy Sacrement Holy Saturday Holy Week Holy name Hosanna Hull I am Immanuel Independence Indulgences Isaac Isaiah 66 Isaiah Islam Jacoby Jacob Jeremiah Jesus juatifies the ungodly Jesus Christ Jesus body Jesus calls Jesus died Jesus fixed sin Jesus forgives Jesus is Lord Jesus is Truth Jesus is Yaweh Jesus is future Jesus is present Jesus is the suwwer Jesus is true God Jesus is true man Jesus is with us Jesus lived Jesus on the Cross Jesus os past Jesus peace Jesus reveals God Jesus rose Jesus saves Jesus shines like the sun Jesus suffering Jesus the Crucified Jesus the Sent One Jesus took God's anger Jesus took God\'s anger Jesus took God\\\'s anger Jesus took all sins Jesus travels to sinners Jesus washing feet Jesus-access tot he Father Jesus" peace Jesus' baptism Jesus' love Jesus' will Jesus\" peace Jesus\' baptism Jesus\\\" peace Jesus\\\\\\\" peace Jews and gentiles Joanna John 12 John 6 John the Baptist Johnson John Jonah Joseph Smith Josephus Joseph Joshua Joy/suffering Jubilate Judah Judgment Day Judica Sunday Karma=get what you give Keith Kenobi Kieselowsky King Solomon King of Kings Kingdom of God Klages Kosche LGBTQ Laban Lamb of God Lamb Lamentations Lamg of God Last Day Law requires doing Law shows sin Lazarus Leah Lent Levi Life or death Lincoln Lord's Prayer Lord's Supper Lord\'s Prayer Lord\'s Supper Lord\\\'s Prayer Lord\\\'s Supper Lords's Prayer Lords\'s Prayer Lords\\\'s Prayer Lord Loss Luke 11 Luke 17 Luke 18 Luke 1 Luther Lydia Maggie Karner Magnificat Maiwald Making Waves Margery Kempe Mark 7 Mark 8 Marr 3 Martha Martin Luther Mary Mass Master Matt 13 Matt 20 Matt 3 Matt 6 Matthew 2 Matthew Matthias replaces Judas Matthias Maundy Thursday McCrorey McKenna Melanchthon Memorial Day Messiah Micah 7 Micah Middle East Monica Mormonism Mormon Mother of God Mt Zion Muhammad Muhlenberg Muslims Myers Nagel Nazareth New Testament New Year Nicene Nicodemus Nunes Office of Ministry Old Testament One tru God Ostapowich Palmarum Paradise Passion time Passover Paul/greatest apostle Pauls Peperkorn Person of Jesus Peter's confession Peter\'s confession Pharaoh Pharisees Pharoah Philip Philistines Phillip and James Phillip Phoebe Pierson Pilate Polycarp Pontius Pilate Populus Zion Potiphar Pray ye Preus Proverbs 31 Psalm 13 Psalm 25 Psalm 43 Psalm 51 Rachel Rahab Rebekah Redeemer Reuben Revelation Riley Risen Lord Rogate Roman persecution Romans 1 Romans 3 Romans 4 Romans 5 Romans Rosebrough Ruth Sabbath Salome Sanchez Sanctus Sarah Saul/greatest preseutor Savior of all Savior Schools shouln't lead prayer Schuldheisz Sebastian Second Article Seed Septuagesima Shakespeare Simeon Simon Sin-Bearer Singing Sinner team becomes Jesus' team Sinner team becomes Jesus\' team Sixth Commandment Sletten Smalcald Sodom Son of David Son of God Son of Mam Son of Man Son of the Living God Sons of God Son Spirit of God Spoken Gospel St Patrick St. Joseph St. Matthias St. Paul Staupitz Supper Table of Duties Te Deum Ten Commandments The Feast The Son of God Theotokos Third Article Timothy Titus Tolkien Transfiguation Transfiquration Tree of Cross Tree of Knowledge Tree of Life Twelve UFO Valentine Vieker Visitation Weedon Winter Wittenberg Woelmer Word and Sacraments Word and Sacrement Word of Christ Word of God Word Yaweh Zachariah Zacharias "Not" "you are god" \"you are god\" \\\"you are god\\\" abortion is evil abortion abram absolute absolve abuse academic acceptable sacrifice active ad te levavi adultery adults advice affirmation agape agnostic alcoholic aliens all have sinned all powerful almighty altar guild altar always anabaptists angel anger animal anna anouthen answering prayers answer anti-christian antinomian antioch antiphonal antithetical to Christianity anxiety apocalypse apologetic apostle appearances appearance archaeology archangels ark armed forces artist ascension athanasian atheism atheist atonement augustana authority awake babylon baby backsliding baggage banquet baptismal grace baptism baptized baptizing barnabas barren bartholomew beginning being made holy belief believes believing is recieving benjamin best construction betray between you bible bigot birth of Jesus birthright blessing blind blood boast body and blood body bonhoeffer borghardt born again bound will brandt bread breakup bride of Christ bridegroom bride brother buetow burial cain calendar cancel culture cancelling the past cancer candle casket catechesis catechism catechize celebration centurion chant character of God chastity child abuse children of promise children choir chosen christianity christmas christ circumcision clean clergy clerical cling coin college colossians combat comfort commandment command community compassion concupiscence condemn conferences confession of Trinity confession of fITH confessions confession confess confirmation connection conscience conspiracy theory context conversion cookie cornerstone corrupting sin council counselor covenant coveting covet creation creed critical theory cross crown crucifiction crucified crucifix cry culture shock culture cupid curb/guide/rule curb current events curse cwirla daily bread danger darkness dating de-platform deadly sin dead dean death debt cancelled debt decrease defeat delivered demon depression descriptive vs prescriptive destroy devil disappointment disaster disciples discipline dishonesty dispair disposition of delight disruption diversity divorce doctrine dogma domestic violence donations donkey door doubts doubt doxology dream drew driven by the Spirit drugs earthquake easter ecclesiastical egypt election elizabeth embarrassment emotions empty tomb encourager encourgement endure enemy engineering enlightened enlivening entertainment envy epiphany epistle equality equal equity escped forced idolitry estates eternal life for us eternal life evangelism evangelist evil evolution examine example excuses exercise love exhalted exhortation exiles exile extra nos extra-biblical eyewitness failure faith alone faith in Jesus faithful faith fall false gods false preachers false teachers family famine fasting fate father's house father\'s house father\\\'s house father\\\\\\\'s house fear feast feelings fellowship of believers female feminism fiery serpent filial fear fire firstfruits flesh flowers font foolish for you forerunner foretaste forgiven in Christ forgiveness forgiven forgive fornication forsaken fortress fraud free gift free will freedom frees us freshman friendship from scripture fulfilles fulfillment full pardon funeral fun future games gaudete gay gender inclusive gender geneology generations generosity genetics genetic genocide gentiles gerhardt gift of justification gift girlfriend given not earned glory of God glory gnosticism goats godliness godly husband golden rule golf good gifts good samaritan good works good work good gospel gossiping government grace repents us gracious gratitude great commission grief groom guarded tomb guardian guard guest guide guilt by association guilt habitual sins hannah happiness harm to win hatred have mercy healing hearing/listening heart hear heaven heinz heirs hell heresy herod high priest high school history holiday holiness holy spirit holy trinity holy homosexuality honor parents honor hope against hope hopelessness hope hostility house of israel humble humblw glory humility hurt husband hymnal hymn hypocrisy hypocrites iPad identity idol worship image imitate impossible improved imputed in Jesus incarnation inconsistant standards increase inheritance instigating faith institution internet interpretation introit invitation isolation israel issues james jerome jerusalem jesus jewish job joyful joy judas jude judge Jesus judge me judgement judge justice justification justify justin martyr kantor karma keep keseman keys kill kind kingdom king knowledge kohlmeier kuhlman lange language large catechism latin laugh law leaven lectionary legacy lemon lepers lept lex credendi lex orendi life-changing life lightning light lion listen liturgical liturgy live doubt live living bread living water lonely lords prayer lords supper lost sheep lost love your neighbor love-Christ on cross love lowly lust lutheran madden magicians magisterial magruder manger manifestation manipulative manna marked as redeemed marriage martyrs martyr mary magdalene mary/faith masks meals means of grace means measures measure mediator mental health merciful mercy and grace mercy metaphor microagression mietzner millennium miracles miracle missionary modernism money moses mountains movement murder musician myth name narrow door nation nature nebuchadnezzar need Jesus negative neighbor net of sin new command new creation new in Christ new life newborns news noah not blesses not condemned obey offering old Adam on our knees on the knees onesimus orders ordinary ordination organ orgiven original sin orthodox our neighbors body overseer pagan pandemic papacy parable of sower parable paraments parents represent God parents teach religion parents party passive pastors pastor patience patriarch paul payed the debt payment peace peers pentecost people perfume perpetual forgiveness persecution person peter pharasies' bribes pharisee philemon philosophy physical touch place or vacation plagues plan plenary pope possible post-Christian postmodern poverty praise pray for leaders prayers prayer praying pray pre-Lent=prepare pre-emptive restraint preaching preach prepare for Calvary pride priesthood proclaim prodigal promises promise prophecy prophet prostitution psalms psalm punish purchased and won purity quarantine racism raised ram ransom rape rapture real presence reality reason rebel reconcile reconciliation redeemed sinners redemption reflection reformation refuge regenerated rejoice rejouce relationship relativism religion religious remember loving kindness renewal of faith repent now repentance repent resolutions restoration rest resurrection reverence with joy richard rich righteousness riots risen road to Damascus rock rorate coeli rule sacraments sacrament sacrement delivers Calvary sacrements sacrifice of presentation sacrifice safety saints saint salvation samaritan sanctification sanctified satan satis est saul saved by grace saved save scapegoat scholarship school science scripture seek God's salvation seek God\'s salvation seek God\\\'s salvation segregation self-centered self-esteem self-justify self-worth selfish human desire selfishness seraphim sermon servant serve ou neighbor served without fanfare service project servile fear set apart sexual sex shaltanis shame shepherd shield showed glory sick silas simul sinners sinner sins sin skeptic slavery small catechism social media shunning sojouner sola fide sola gratia sola soldiers sophia sorrow sorry enough soul soup supper speeding spiritual drink spiritual spirit star state steal stephen stewardship steward stottlemyer strength stress strong subjective suffer for...my name suffer/die/rise again suffering suicide is forgiven suicide support single mothers symbol synagogue tabernacle tax collectors teaching teach technology temple temptation tempted tenderness tertullian tetelestai the Christ the Church the Cross the Word theology things of God thomas throne through faith tomb tongues trinity triune God triune trust in God trust truth unbelief undeserved favor unforgiveable unity universal changing event universalism universe university unrighteousness unwoke veil vestments victim victoory victory video virgin virtue vocation voice war washed watermarked water weakness weak wealth wedding weeping wept widow will of God wine for wedding wisdom wise witness woke=aware of social justice wokeism=American civil religion woke works world's religion is transactional world worship wrath yahweh youth ministry youth zechariah zion zombie