“I really appreciate when you make up songs at church,” a friend once told me. “Does that feel vulnerable?”
A little bit. You don’t usually know where you’re headed until you get started and you can only hope the words pan out. In the best moments, you’ll create a song that feels Spirit-inspired. In the worst moments, you’ll accidentally trip over your words and utter heresy. And somewhere in between, you’ll get a fine song that was good enough.
The Bible has spontaneous musical moments, where seemingly out of nowhere, Miriam, Deborah, or Mary burst out in song like a real-life broadway. Maybe they wrote these songs later and the Bible editors simply incorporated them into the text, but musical spontaneity happens to us more than we often realize. How often do I catch my daughter singing what she’s doing? How many times have I done it myself? As Eugene Peterson says,
“Song and dance are the result of excess energy. When we are normal we talk. When we are dying we whisper. But when there is more in us than we can contain, we sing. When we are healthy we walk. When we are decrepit we shuffle. But when we are beyond ourselves in vitality, we dance.”Eugene Peterson
How about you? Have you ever found yourself making up worship songs in the car? How about singing one you know acapella? Have you had the desire to sing out in tongues though you have no idea why? In those moments, we’re practicing what Paul himself experienced, “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” In those moments, we join Mother Mary in song as she rejoices in song over her miracle baby.