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.