The Secret of Harmony

I’m sure this is not a new thought. Much has already been written about the relationship between the Christian life and music… but it came to me again this morning, as we gathered for worship and sang the songs of faith.
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Sometimes I sing harmony in the Body of Christ.It takes a special skill to sing harmony. One has to listen to the melody line carefully and take care not to overtake in an effort to offer another part. Whoever carries the melody line has the lead. It’s important to watch them, their body language and facial expressions, so that our harmony blends with their leading notes. A natural blend is the goal of any combination of harmony and melody, whether it’s a dissonant blend or one resolved. Melody should not completely overtake harmony, or we miss the depth of sound and the interest that harmony offers to the story. At the same time, if harmony overtakes melody, the message of the song is lost along with the leading voice. Therefore, my voice must rise and fall with theirs; and not by my own direction.Harmony takes humility. It’s not the part of stardom or spotlight. It’s behind-the-scenes. It’s supportive and submissive. Even if I believe a certain phrase should be sung differently, I follow the lead voice in service to the song. I mirror their expression and phrasing. If I force my own agenda or expression, the song loses its power and focus. It says less and accomplishes less when we all try to lead.

This does not mean, however, that I don’t get to offer anything of my own to the song. My attentiveness to blend and my support of the lead voices, can greatly enhance the song in a way that is uniquely my own. I may choose a dissonant harmony that creates a temporary conflict in the song, begging for resolution. Support does not always mean we make a pleasant sound. Dissonance is vital because without it, a song does not move forward. Dissonance creates possibility and energy; it opens doors to new places. But dissonance with no resolution communicates very little—it pleads for something more. And the voice of harmony is often the one who holds the power of resolution… not always, but often. Am I willing to take my note down a half-step toward resolution?

When we rise together, melody and harmony as one—when I match their tone and we experience that perfect blend of sound; we communicate a completely different story than one voice ever could alone. It may not be the way I would have chosen to sing it, had I been singing a solo; but it may very well carry a deeper message because of the joining of our voices… because I chose to sing harmony.

There will come a time when I will be asked to carry the leading voice. And my leadership has the potential to be more powerful if I have learned the secret of singing harmony. Have I learned to watch others and join them as they tell the story of the song, to blend with them and match their expression? When I carry the lead, will I choose to listen to those harmonizing with me and welcome them into the song? Will I listen when I sense that they hear a phrase rising and falling in places I did not? Have I learned the secret of harmony?

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