Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)
TITLE: Singing Out of Key
By Janet Richey
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“Make a joyful noise, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness, come to His presence in singing.” Psalms 100: 1&2 ESV
I have the unique distinction of not only having deaf parents, but being a preacher's kid as well. It was a challenging childhood, as I was not afforded the carefree attitude of a child, nor allowed many of perceived freedoms that most children have. What I was given, and I cherish, was a love of Christ, and ironically, the love of music.
My dad was friends with a single woman whom I only knew as Miss. Scott who had an uncompromising love of God, and a heart for the deaf. In my child's eye view, she looked a hundred years old, but she was most likely in her sixties, and she offered me and my siblings free piano lessons. When I was 5 years old, my dad started driving me and my brother to weekly piano lessons, over Gowen City mountain, to the little coal town of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, where Miss. Scott lived. After lessons, she and Dad would have seemingly unending theological discussions. I developed a dislike for the routine rather quickly. While my gifted brother would go on to be a beautiful pianist, I would not get out of the 3rd grade book by the time I was in 6th grade. Still, there were other lessons to be learned that I would not appreciate until I got older. Those years were the foundation of my deep love of music today, and the integral part in plays in my worship. I also learned about perseverance, diligence and giving God your offerings, no matter how small.
“Make a joyful noise, all ye lands,” in the 100th chapter of Psalms takes on a whole new meaning when you're deaf. Watching and hearing a sanctuary full of deaf people interpreting that scripture is nothing short of life-changing. Even though I watched it every week from my place in the front pew, it still inspires me to this day.
My father's church was an old building with the traditional bell tower in the front, tucked in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains. It wasn't very big, and could seat 100 people at the absolute most. You might call it charming. The entire congregation was deaf, and there were no more than 5 or 6 families each Sunday.
In the front of the church was a dusty, out of tune piano that was only played by the hearing kids after service was over. There was no robed choir behind the pulpit. No pipe organ. Dad would open with prayer. Do you know that deaf people pray with their eyes open? When I was young, I thought that was so deliciously scandalous!
There is no musical introduction to start the song, just a visual prompting from the song leader. All of them use their hands to sign, and it's music in motion, more personal than any dance routine. Many use their voices. They sing songs that they don't know the melody to, with voices they cannot hear. There is no three part harmony, but God has a different standard for what is beautiful, and this must be pleasing to him indeed. It is worship, in it's purest form.
Thirty-three years later, I find myself in front of our piano, and still cannot play a single praise and worship chorus without making an error in every measure. I cannot sing a song at the top of my lungs in my car without garbling the words because I can't remember them. But I think back to the days of listing to a room full of deaf people singing out of key, and I think “God is pleased”.
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