Singing With My Fingers

You can see interesting events from a church piano bench. For example, you can see a young couple holding hands below a hymnal where they think no one sees, at least you could when young people actually held hymnals. On the piano bench, you have a great view of what is happening. You can see up close a children’s program. However, the best views are of the congregation watching the children perform, especially the parents and family of the performers. Most of the time, Church of God parishioners are very neutral in their expression. However, when kids perform, the congregation smiles and their eyes twinkle, even the “sour and dour”.

There are some disadvantages of sitting on the piano bench. Obviously, everybody can see everything what you do, which is not always a good thing. When your music falls off the piano as you turn the page, or you start off playing in the wrong key, or going to sleep on the bench and falling while hitting the keyboard during prayer, these are not good at anytime.

As a youth, I could play piano recitals fairly well. I could conqueror the nerves and get through my piece usually without loosing my place. Playing for church – now that was another matter. I was raised on the principle that you always gave your best to God, no shorting Him. I just never felt I could play good enough to play for the Big Guy. My Dad had an interesting way to get over my fears. He always took a couple quartet song books to Sunday evening service. If the service got dull, he would suggest that we sing three or four of them.  Dad had a great bass voice. With no warning, cold turkey, Dad would hand one of the song books to me and take the other with him. I had no idea what he was up to until I was at the piano and he reached the pulpit with the other singers. At first, I was too afraid to play the piano. Then I got smart and learned to play all his favorite songs. In the process, I got over playing for church and God.

Over the years, I have learned to “sing with my fingers”, What a vocalist feels when God is moving and using their voice, I feel that same moving, sometimes at least, in my fingers. You get to the point that you don’t really think about the individual notes. Instead you feel the phrases of a song or, in my case, I feel the stanzas of the musical score. I worship God with my fingers! I don’t say a word but God is worshiped.

That makes me wonder what worship really is. Is worship for God’s benefit or for ours? I think God does “enjoy” communion with His creation. I imagine He is sort of like the parents watching their children performing during their programs, all smiles and eyes twinkling. No matter what we do or how we do it, as long as it is for Him, He is pleased. We don’t have to be good enough, in fact there is no way we can ever be good enough in ourselves. I know there are lots of parishioners who feel that they are not talented enough, skilled enough, tall enough, pretty enough… well, you get the idea. We’ve become a spectator nation – let the gifted perform and give them a “clap offering”. But that is not the way it should be. God wants no one on the bench. Everyone is to be a player.  Christianity is not a spectator sport.

So, what to do? How about starting smiling during morning service. How about using some of your talents, take a chance. I’ll be looking, so shoot me a grin once in a while.
Bill Beverly, pianist  (written 2009)