GREAT MUSICIANS TEACH US GRATITUDE

Lari Goss  Two uniquely influential Gospel musicians passed from this life in the past week. I am sorry to say I never had the privilege of meeting either one of them personally. Gospel singer, Jason Crabb, wrote about a time when he sang My Tribute with Andre’ Crouch himself accompanying at the piano bench, and it made me wonder what that could have possibly felt like. Writer/arranger/publisher, Craig Adams’ reflections in a blogpost (WorshipLife) about his interactions with Lari Goss stirred vicarious responses as well. Undoubtedly, the names Andre’ Crouch and Lari Goss will be remembered for a long, long time for the legacy that each one left. Each influenced the shaping of music expression in the church. Indeed, not only African American churches of the Church of God In Christ (COGIC) denomination of which Crouch was a part, but churches of many faith traditions have been known to sing with soul the rich Gospel expressions of Crouch’s songs like Soon and Very Soon, The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, Bless His Holy Name, Through It All, Jesus Is the Answer, Let the Church Say Amen, and I’m Gonna Keep on Singing, just to name a few. And what choir has never done Goss’s Cornerstone, or sung or played any of the hundreds (or more) arrangements, orchestrations, or musical treatments with Lari Goss’s mark on it?

Though I did not know these men they left part of themselves with me. I never sang with Andre Crouch at the piano, but certainly joined that Gospel spirit listening to recordings of his group, the Disciples. As a director I tried to help choirs full of Anglo singers to inject some of that Black Gospel feel when singing an arrangement of The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power. I never sat in a studio while Lari Goss did one of his masterful orchestrations, but I have stood before instrumentalists and helped them discover some of those soaring, or sometimes subtle, countermelody lines that help to paint a particular lyric, or that highlight a nice musical progression. My not knowing these men personally has not prevented me from experiencing their lives through the gifts they offered, the craft they honed, the art they shared. The same could be said about all those who have contributed to the master catalogue of music of the church, the music of Christian worship. In fact, I find that the greatest Christian musicians have a sense of humility born in the recognition that what they are involved in is in every sense a gift from God. Music itself is a gift. Their own talent is a gift. The health and well-being it takes to be able to make music is a gift. Their upbringing and composite influences on their lives are all gift.

I listened to an NPR interview with Andre’ Crouch in which he talks about the influence of Gospel organist, Billy Preston, and about the Winans, and others. The same kind of spirit is exemplified in reflections offered by Lari Goss. The spirit of genuine gratitude is a hallmark of those who are confident in who God made them to be, and in the gifts He has imparted to them. I also have found them to exude an appreciation for the volunteer church musicians who sing and play their music and use it to express worship ministry. These attitudes endear the greats to us all the more, and enhance the authenticity of their giftedness, and their witness. A thankful spirit is clearly called for in the Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 passages that are foundational to any good theology of music as ministry. I find that a genuinely thankful spirit sweetens the song itself. When we sing with gratitude in our hearts, the thankfulness is exuded in our singing. The attitude is first and foremost directed to the Master Giver Himself, the One we worship and praise, but it also spills over to those who are making music with us, those who are playing while we sing, or singing while we play, or writing to give us songs to sing, or editing so that what we sing will make sense lyrically and musically. The spirit of gratitude extends to those who listen and join the spirit of thanksgiving. Whatever place we hold at the music-making table it will be made sweeter through the faithful practice of a thankful heart. As we age the gratitude just deepens. Life experiences and emotions deepen the creases in our faces, and remind us again and again that every minute of life is a precious gift. With a prayer for ministering grace we often reach for music in our times of depression or exuberance, and often find solace there, especially when the song carries with it a sense of thankfulness.

 

 

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church keyboard players, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

One Comment on “GREAT MUSICIANS TEACH US GRATITUDE”

  1. Joan Willis Says:

    Paul–this article is not just an article–it is a tremendous sermon you put down on paper….you expressed so well these men’s lives and talents and how they have affected history –christian and otherwise. As a christian music teacher and church musician the music they contributed certainly was music I loved and used. “To God Be the Glory”. Joan Willis


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