My family and I walked into the auditorium and grabbed our seats, we noticed that the room was filling up fast. I sat down and gave my attention to our particularly squirmy and curious child. After he was settled I began looking around. The congregation was a diverse blend of ages and ethnicities. Some of them seemed to know each other and they talked a bit. In short order some people came out on the platform and some basic announcements were given. Everyone settled into their seats, appearing ready to engage.
Once it started I was captivated by what I was seeing. People were leaning forward in their seats, bending their necks to, as it appeared, get closer to the stage. I noticed a common expression of joy on a number of faces. One man in particular, who seem to be in his 70’s, was smiling with his mouth open like he was listening to his favorite story being retold. Shortly I was drawn in myself and forgot where I was.
The scene was a music hall on a local university campus in Nebraska. The diverse congregation of Omaha residents gathered together to hear a string quartet playing Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Cello.
As the concert went on I observed something unique, almost worshipful in those who played and listened. It was surprising to me because while I very much enjoy classical music as a tandem for study I have been to very few public performances. I have however, been to a number of concerts for other genres of music. This seemed very different.
One difference was the engagement of the audience. While other genres may lend themselves to dancing or singing along, this music was more geared to quiet contemplation. Instead of closing their eyes concert goers kept their eyes glued on the musicians. Further, in most other settings it seems the at the musicians themselves tend to get elevated even above the music. In this case it seemed different. While the musicians were extremely talented (and frankly quite interesting to watch) they were second fiddle to the music. The music was king and they were the servants bringing the music to us. Further, there was very little left to subjectivity. The pieces had an intended tone and mood (I’m not sure these are the right words). The musicians were attempting to capture the composer’s intent was with the composition. I don’t have to point out how ironic this is on a University campus that prides itself on the progressive understanding of history, literature, and art.
As a Christian I looked around and found myself reminded again of the image of God in humanity. We were made to marvel. We were created to have our hearts drawn after beauty through our senses. I am not sure how many of those gathered would find themselves in church pews on Sunday morning, but I do know that they were reflecting something of their Creator’s design that Saturday night. We were made to glorify God through what he has made, and many seemed to be doing so that evening—perhaps without even knowing it.
It remains fascinating to watch people respond to things that God has made. Music, particularly classical music like this, is, in my opinion, timelessly beautiful and uniquely suited to draw out our often repressed sense of marvel.
Originally published at Erik's Gospel Coalition blog, Ordinary Pastor.