Sunday morning, I was alone in the car, driving to pick up kids for church, when the radio station started playing sections of “The Messiah.”
From time-to-time, people have asked me about singing that marvelous piece of music – every time, I smile and reply that other than a few bars of music inserted into a Christmas cantata or singing to a recording, I have never been in a choir of voices praising God through the “Hallelujah Chorus” or “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.” But, I know nearly every part of the work.
You see, I played the violin as a member of orchestras for so many performances of “The Messiah” that I cannot recall them all.
When I hear “The Messiah,” my ears are tuned to the first and second violin sections playing those amazing passages in “For Unto us a Child is Born” and “Comfort Ye, My People” and “The Trumpet Shall Sound” and many, many other songs. As I listen, I can hear the play between the string and the woodwind sections. I love identifying both the active and the pastoral passages. I treasure the power of emotion brought about by fingers and bows dancing across four strings, tense over a wooden box.
I asked my college “stand mate,” Kathy, if she also listened for the violins when she heard “The Messiah.” She said that she did but went on to note that because she often played tympani after we graduated from college, that she now hears the tympani.
Fascinating. I love the melodies and harmonies of “The Messiah,” I know nearly all of the words, but I most often listen for the violins. It isn’t pride, it is familiarity.
I have played first and second violin, but I love listening for the second violins, the underdogs of the violins.
What if the second violin section never showed up? We would miss so many complex passages where string sections play against one another, the beauty of counter-balance. The powerful music of violins playing in unison would be cut by fifty percent, making those passages sound weak and thin. We would never hear the melody in passages where the second violins take the lead and the first violins go wandering about in the upper ranges.
Ever feel like a “second fiddle”? Never, ever forget that second violins make beautiful music. They are critical to the sound of the orchestra.
When we serve in community, every part, every player matters. If you don’t show up, it changes everything. This year, as we gather together, let’s agree to do our part.
Let’s show up.
Jill (just one of God’s kids)
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I Peter 4:10