1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
“The end is music,” a theologian once wrote. He meant that that the end is the chorus of the Holy Trinity, the heavenly hosts, and all the saints singing sweetly to one another. He didn’t mean the kind of thing that Huck Finn hated, betogaed cherubs with lyres and trilling voices, but the song of a great congregation really letting it out. He was quoting in that moment that great American theologian, Jonathan Edwards, who himself perhaps was thinking of congregational singing. I don’t know if you’ve ever come to the Christmas Festival here at OSA, but I’ve seen tears at it. I don’t think I will ever get over congregational singing, because it doesn’t matter if you can hold a tune. Your voice, no matter how untrained, makes a difference, because it lends power to the song, and the body of Christ holds you in the song as you sing. I think congregational singing is part of the foretaste of the feast of heaven, and when we all hit it sweetly, there’s nothing better. Clare and I, back when we were young and just married, went to see Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Helmuth Rilling. We got rush tickets, and we sat right by the chorus. Not the best seat if you want to hear everything precisely, but we could feel the rush of the wind as the chorus stood to sing, and we could hear the chorus hit the ‘k’ of the kyrie, and we felt, almost, like we were singing with them. It was like the charge of the Light Brigade, or surfing. The music just rushed right through us. But congregational singing is even better than that. This theologian said that God is a fugue, because there is nothing so capacious as a fugue. The end, he said, is music.