to sing in front of people. I'm 33, btw, but last year was my first, so that's where the 32 comes in. I've sang in large groups, like in my high school's musicals and I've sang tiny snippets solo for auditions in closed rooms with only like 6 people in them, and once in the 8th or 9th grade I took the lead on an old country song in choir, but the whole choir was backing me up - but to this scale - 32 years.
Last year, my preacher's wife, Beth, asked me to sing in a trio for our church's ladies' day. She asked me in front of 10 or so others at a planning meeting, so I felt like I had to say yes. My head started spinning and I believe I threatened to punch the girl next to me (under my breath) for volunteering my name, and I immediately regretted my decision. A few days later, I learned that we were to take turns leading singing for the day, also. AS IN UP ON STAGE, BEHIND THE PULPIT, INTO THE MICROPHONE WITH EVERYONE STARING AT/HEARING/FOLLOWING MY LEAD. I was terrified.
Through our weeks of practice, I got pretty comfortable with the trio idea, but leading singing was the thing that made my knees shake. In fact, the two nights before, we took turns at the podium, singing the songs we had picked to lead while the other ladies worked on decorations, was scary. Just standing up there was daunting. It definitely took a bit of the edge off, though, to have faced the rows of chairs a few times before the actual day.
We all got through it just fine, thanks to prayer, deep breathing, and a few minor freak outs in the ladies' room, and I ended up being SO GLAD that Beth asked me to help. In fact, I enthusiastically said "yes" when she asked me to head the music for this year's event. Last year, I wouldn't allow anyone to record us performing, this year - I did it myself and I'm sharing it here. That's proof of how much the three of us grew in our confidence and comfort. I almost got Desiree to lead a few songs, which is pretty far forward for her, in terms of stage fright. Next year......right, Desi?
I had so much fun with it this year. I was anxious beforehand, but I knew from last year that I would be just fine about halfway through the first song. I started off with "Awesome God" (you know, "Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above...) because it was super familiar and easy to sing. The one I was a little afraid of was "It is Well". Our theme was Be Still and Know, so I picked this one because of what it means to me. Any of you who have ever been under the song leadership of Tom Chapin know what I'm getting to; it was the song that the congregation started to sing as I (and so many others through the years) came up out of the water when I was baptized. This song represents the very first moment that I was still and knew God. I got through the introductory words and the whole song without flinching, so that was a load off. The most powerful part of that song for me is the line that goes:
"my sin, not in part but the whole -
is nailed to the cross,
and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord!
O! My soul!"
I usually get that 'here it comes' tickle in the ball of my nose and my voice starts to crack.
Turns out that praise through song is where I feel the most connected to God - the most right within my heart. You would think it would be through traditional prayer, but I am easily distracted. My mind never stops running, so I don't always get to keep that proper state of mind during a prayer. In song, though, I can focus. I know that He doesn't care what I sound like or if I trip over the lyrics. He is wholly receiving my joy, gratitude, and prayer through the outpouring of my soul through the melody. I feel every word I sing, and I know I am conveying that to God. Sometimes when I pray at night, a relevant hymn will come to my mind and I usually just go with it. I sing. It doesn't matter that I didn't write the words that I am giving to His ear, it only matters that I mean them.
Here are two of the songs we did. I'm the one in the pink pants, singing alto, Whitney White is the one in khakis singing a ridiculously high soprano1, and Desiree Foster is in jeans, singing the melodies.
Here is our arrangement (by me!) of "Sanctuary" mixed with "We Exalt Thee".
** This one's my favorite.**
And here is our version of "Still".
I leave you with the verse that our Ladies' Day was built around:
He says "Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the Earth"
I hope you all exalt Him today, whether in song, prayer, or action. Have a blessed Sunday!