An Easter Rehearsal

I know my feet are prone to slip, unsure,
     So I play it again: Alleluia. 
And I know my hands may strike without measure,
     So I play it once more: Alleluia. 
But, worst, I know my heart is yet impure,
     So I pray it again:
          Alleluia, Amen.

The organist and choristers know well
     The rehearsed rejoicing of that spontaneous swell,
For rhythms help to raise a practiced praise, 
     And so we once more play
     And once more pray:
          Alleluia, Alleluia, again—
          Alleluia, Alleluia,
               Amen.

- R. McLaren, Easter 2021

Although my soul craved to spend Holy Saturday in solemn silence, I spent much of it practicing the pedal lines of Easter hymns, which are notoriously tricky. Over and over again, I played an “Alleluia” refrain, attempting to wrangle my feet and fingers into coordinated submission. And I was frustrated with each repetition, with each phrase of praise. This exhausting practice time, though, became a life-giving moment in itself, reminding me that praise is practiced; to be people of praise is not always to feel giddy with happiness but, rather, to engage the rhythms of rejoicing provided through the Spiritual disciplines, which I believe includes music-making.

Like playing a hymn on the organ, rejoicing requires rehearsal; often, joyful emotions and affections follow only after we have repeated a refrain (like a musical technique) regularly enough for it to become ingrained in our hearts, minds, and bodies.

The stained glass at my church is a source of constant wonder and delight. Thank God for dappled things!

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