Christian and Lutheran Life... And What I Think About It...
As God in His wisdom has planned, we don't have many musicians in our church. We have a very good organist who serves faithfully. When he can't be there, Pastor usually can get a substitute organist, a lady from Clarksville who plays beautifully. But if this lady can't come, Pastor calls me and asks if I will play the piano.
I am not a good pianist by any stretch of the imagination. I had piano lessons when I was growing up, but my talent was mediocre at best. I have no inborn gift for reading music; it has always been hard labor for me. If it's unfamiliar music, I struggle pitifully with it! I have even photocopied music and used white-out to remove some notes that were just confusing me.
I can play many familiar hymns without much difficulty, but many other hymns are challenging for me. When I have to play for a service, it seems like the hymn list always includes some selections from the second category. I practice the troublemakers with diligence, and sometimes I do OK on them, and sometimes I hit wrong notes and distress myself with my imperfect abilities. Sometimes I'm nervous, and I have to force myself to relax, focus on the notes and get through the songs.
Over time, I have reached a couple of conclusions about playing for church. I have learned that several ladies in our church play the piano a little. I would be very willing to let any of them play in my stead. But if no one else volunteers, I guess they are content with (or at least resigned to) my efforts.
More importantly, I realized a while back that nervousness is really a self-centered emotion. The piano is part of the music and the music is a part of all the worship that is offered to God through the service. Obsessing about my fears and imperfections is just wrong; I need to play the best I can in humbleness before the Lord and He will bless the music. I try to keep that in mind.
Tonight I have to play for the Lenten service. Pastor called me yesterday afternoon and since then, I 've been practicing. The hymns are "Jesus, Thy Boundless Love To Me" with the Vater Unser melody, "O Dearest Jesus", "There is a Green Hill Far Away", and "Go My Children With My Blessing". In our hymnal, the first two hymns are one difficult minor chord after another, but I found easier arrangements in another hymnal. If I concentrate on reading the notes, I should do all right on them. The other two are easy enough. A short prelude, the four hymns, the offertory, and a short postlude, and I'll be done. Yes, I am a little nervous, but I'll be OK.