Singing along when the trumpet blasts

To my surprise and delight, there was a trumpet at “midnight” (now 10 pm) mass. I was a late addition to the roster for Christmas Eve this year, driving after dinner to fill in for a colleague with the flu. It was a treat to have trumpet and violin along with organ, breathing new life into the Heritage Mass acclamations and hymns which I have sung so many times that they prompt me to go on autopilot.

I had to wake up a little more to collaborate with two other musicians. The violin encouraged me to sing with more color, and the trumpet often carried the melody enough so that I could back off and let the assembly sing without my “help”. The trumpeter was creative and often moved between melodies, harmonies, and descants without warning, and I would be forced to react, amping up the intensity to balance strength of the harmonies.

Why was I able to do this? Because I know the music in my core. The familiarity which often makes these gigs seem like a drag was for an hour or so the only thing that helped me succeed. I could think, react, and lead because the music was a part of me.

A day will come when another trumpet will sound. I’m comfortable enough with mystery that I’ve never tried to divine the details of what Jesus’ return will be like. For the sake of argument, let’s say Matthew 24 had it right, and then the sign of the Son of Manwill appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he will send out his angelswith a trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Detail from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Detail from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

All I want is to know the song they’re playing. Is that the goal of life? To be singing the same song as the angels when they appear? Because if they show up and I don’t know the tune, in the chaos and distraction I could lose myself. My prayer is to learn the right song, so that whatever tune or counter-melody those innovative angels choose the play, I’ll be able to blend right in with them.

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