Friday, September 23, 2005

Litmus Lozenges and Church Music

Our whole family saw the movie Because of Winn-Dixie last Saturday night. It's a sweet movie, thankfully populated by something other than Disney's clever kids and clueless parents. One key element in the film is the "Litmus Lozenge," a type of hard candy invented by a battle-scarred Civil War veteran who found a way to distill both sweetness and sorrow. It's described as having a "melancholy" taste.

Anyway, at church on Sunday the prelude was a jazzy version of "Jesus Loves Me"-- a piano, soft drum kit, bass, and a soprano sax. The soprano sax in particular was beautiful, and I asked the kids about it in the car later. We agreed that the addition of the sax made the song sound like a Litmus Lozenge.

Then later in the week I was asked to adjudicate a contest for new worship songs. As I played through the entries on the piano, I kept noticing how the addition of one note in a chord could change its flavor entirely - and thus that of the entire piece. In one song, after a fairly interesting verse, the chorus begins with an "Alleluia"-- on that chord I wished the composer had added an E-natural to his F2 chord, thus making it an Fmaj9.

I wonder if all our alleluias in worship -- at least until Christ's return -- should be sung with a hint of melancholy, like the Litmus Lozenge.


Anonymous said...

Why do we need to sing to the Lord with melancholy,with all He has done for us?

Ron Rienstra said...

Because despite God's love, manifold and manifest, it is still a world broken by the sin human beings brought -- and continue to bring -- to it. The world is broken and wounded and we still feel the effects of that in tsunamis and cancers and divorces and many other ways. So yes, we sing in praise with the stars; we also groan with the lament of all creation. Especially in this time of Advent, we long for the full redemption Jesus won for us in the cross and resurrection.