Nancy and I went to a concert on Halloween night, on Reformation night. The concert included uncountable music references to “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” The tune is on Martin Luther’s greatest hits list, and the concert included versions from Bach, Mendelssohn, Luther, and an a cappella arranger.
The choir and the orchestra are based at a local university and are a mix of students and community members. In other words, rather than being paid to play, they pay to play. They give practice time and rehearsal time. They give up other tasks and delights for the opportunity to play this music in community.
Because all of these take community. The viola part for a Bach cantata, no matter how skilled the musician, isn’t the experience Bach desired for an audience. Bach wrote parts for many instruments and for voices. And then he imagined having several violins and only one piccolo trumpet. He imagined one tenor for the tenor solo, and many tenors for the chorus.
The way to hear what he had in mind is to have many people picking up the parts that are available, and playing them with all the skill they’ve developed.
And All Saints Eve, they did it for the love of playing together because it’s the only way to hear it all. Together.
I have a feeling that when Jesus said that people would know who belonged to Him by their love for each other, he may have had Bach and Mendelssohn and the concert we attended in mind. People who offer their time and musical gifts to each other to play the piece that he intended.
I’m thankful for their sacrifice for our delight, and theirs. Working hard at our parts of a communal piece, even when imperfect, is worth doing. So I’m also thankful for the duets and trios of care of loved ones, the ensembles and choruses of compassion for hurting and helpless people that you are joining with.