I went down to St. Louis this past week, and did so in not the best of mind-sets. I was still pretty exhausted by the Folk Choir's tour to Florida, and another week away from the Golden Dome, while sometimes enviable, also leaves you with double the work when you return.
So I was feeling rather overwhelmed when I was collected at Lambert Airport, knowing that I was about to jump into an intense four days of music, theology and collaboration with my sacred music composer colleagues.
Then, we had night prayer, our first night. And the person who shared the Scriptures with us was an old friend and fellow composer from Ohio, Rino Angelini. He's been in the field of ministry as long as I have – more than thirty years – and by rights probably has as many cuts, scrapes and burns as anyone who's worked in the trenches for such an extended period of time.
So when Rino stepped up to the podium, and it being the end of the day, I was beginning to put myself into that Scripture stupor that tunes out all things except my own selfish mantras.
Then he began to read the Pauline letter. "Read" is a poor word, though that was what he was doing. Breathing with and through the sacrament of those words is probably more like it. Speaking with all the authority of one who has served the church all his life, yet doing so with humility and grace and a sense of musical energy that could not be denied. Yet all the while he was exhorting, encouraging, enabling: putting both himself and anyone who dared to listen in direct contact with the Word.
It is always a blessing to make my way to St. Louis, as crazy as the weather can be. But it is not just the music that draws me here. This amazing group of men and women – poets, composers, church musicians, husbands and wives and clerics, people who have utterly devoted themselves to the church – every one of them is an inspiration. Every one of them spends countless hours of their lives crafting musical ideas, and these ideas must be both prophetic and orthodox at one and the same time.
And I look up to every one of them.
Not just for their compositional skills, either. Sometimes, simply because they have the gift of being a lector, singing the Word of God without even striking a note. Singing, because their whole life has been a Song.
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