Hearing and seeing the beauty around us…
“The Week” has begun. Every year the Knoxville Choral Society teams up with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and various other music/dance ensembles for a series of holiday concerts, and this is “The Week”. It is a week of rehearsals, final tweaking of the program and last-minute polishing of our weekend musical offerings to the community. It is always a feast for both eyes and ears, a spectacle of movement, color and sound.
I will admit that I find “The Week” to be a mixed bag of excitement and fatigue. Ultimately, though, there is a sense of wonderment that so many musicians, conductors, singers, dancers, sound technicians, lighting designers and costumers have all joined forces to make this concert series come together. Numerous composers and arrangers are represented in each year’s program, and I am always especially impressed at their creative gifts, both in arranging existing music in new ways and in conjuring altogether original compositions.
At last night’s rehearsal I took a few moments to really look at some of the instruments so expertly played by our orchestra friends. I’ve been around instruments my whole life and it’s easy to take their beauty for granted. So it is with anything—or anyone—we have become accustomed to. Looking at these familiar instruments through my camera’s lens brought me a fresh appreciation for their beauty, both in the craftsmanship with which they were fashioned and in the sounds they make in the hands of a skilled player.
Such intricacy of design and workmanship! And the marks of use and love worn into them over years, often decades, of playing and working, make each one unique unto itself and bear witness to a life of faithful musical service for both the instrument and the one who plays it.
The paradox is that even the most expensive instrument is silent until someone plays it, and if it is not played well, all its expensive materials and workmanship don’t amount to much. By the same token, a skilled and caring musician can take an average, or even poor, instrument and make glorious, beautiful sound pour forth from it. It is all in the hands and heart of the player.
We have all heard and/or read the famous Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace…” Especially now at Christmas, which is joyful but also very difficult for a lot of us, for a variety of reasons, I pray to be an instrument of peace in the lives of those I love. Where there is hatred, let me show love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is pain, healing. Where there is stress, calm. In the noise and clamor and chaos of this world, Lord, make me an instrument of peace in Your masterful hands, bringing serene harmony into the lives of those around me.
Lord, make me an instrument.