I want to apologize for allowing these people to perform their music in our church.” That’s what the Adventist pastor told his congregation after the Christian group my friend played in finished their concert. The pastor made sure that the musicians heard his remarks, just to ensure that the group would not sense any thread of appreciation for their ministry.
The problem may have been the “beat” of their music—the fact that it had one, I mean. Still worse, one or more of the instruments was likely electrified; more evidence of the group’s clear association with the dark side. I’m pretty sure they left their drums at home for this concert, or my buddy likely would’ve phoned for assistance from the deep pit into which he’d been thrown.
Musicians lead dangerous lives.
My own musical experience began as a child. How can I forget that very first piano lesson? I’ve tried everything, but I still have nightmares about it. You see, it was during that first lesson that the word “practice” somehow slipped through the lips of my instructor. I tried to stuff it back in, but no luck. Worse still, my mom heard the word. I was doomed.
“Can I watch the Cubs game now, Mom?” I already pretty much knew what her response would be, but I was furnishing her yet another opportunity to experience the joy of extending grace to another individual—specifically, me.
“Not until you’ve practiced your piano.”
My mom could be pretty graceless sometimes. So I trudged over to the old upright piano and started banging away. At first my banging was without form, and void of any musical qualities. But over time it began sounding more and more like piano music. Slowly but surely I was making progess! I even started playing some classical music written by guys with names like Mose Art and Show Pan, or something like that.
But my favorite song to play was the official U.S. field artillery march, “When the Caissons Go Rolling Along.” A caisson, by the way, is a very large ammunition box. Apparently the Army’s explosive piece of music was written as sort of a rallying cry for the troops. But that didn’t have anything to do with why I liked to play the tune. Rather, its simplicity allowed me to play it really, really fast.
“Hey, kid, play us a song on that piano.” My parents were having their home remodeled, and the carpenters were eating their lunches. They were in the mood for a little music to go with their cheese sandwiches and . . . whatever else carpenters eat for lunch. (I don’t think that’s where the term “carpenter ants” hails from, but I’m not sure.)
“Well, OK,” I replied sheepishly. With that, I lit into my best rendition of “When the Caissons Go Rolling Along.”
When I’d finished, the hammer slammers all applauded. “Wow, kid—you can sure play that song fast!” one of them said.
So I played it again, still faster. I was on a roll, just like the caissons. The carpenters probably meant to ask for my autograph, but all that cheese in their systems had apparently affected their ability to remember things.
Sadly, this noteworthy period of my childhood development eventually led to my musical downfall. Not only did I find joy in playing music really fast, I also discovered that adding a “beat” to various pieces spiced things up too. Soon I took up with the likes of the friend I mentioned earlier. Dennis actually knew what he was doing musically, and he became somewhat of a mentor to me. Once he even told me that I belonged in a mentor hospital, or something like that. I think he saw such potential in me that he figured I would be well-served to seek professional help. Anyway, as a result of hanging around Dennis and others like him, I would eventually go on to purchase a wide range of repulsive musical instru-mutants, including a piano that actually plugged into the wall, a metallic-flake snare drum, and an electric mandolin.
Years of counseling eventually helped my mother overcome her guilt as to where she had gone wrong.
So what kind of music does God like us to choose in praising Him? I’m not sure if He has a favorite. But He must be pleased when it’s music that reflects our joy in celebration of His great loving kindnesses toward us. Maybe that’s what David had in mind when he wrote in Psalm 52:9, “I will praise you forever for what you have done.”
H’mmm. I don’t know if that would sound so good played really, really fast. But it might!