Music has never been my strongest subject. My greatest musical achievement to date was learning to bang large wood dowels together when our music minister waved his hand in a quick, upward motion, and I wasn’t even very good at that. My worship pastor tells me now that my music minister was attempting to teach me rhythm. Fail.
When I entered college at Florida Baptist Theological College, I discovered that I would be required to take a music class in order to graduate. I dreaded taking this class more than any class in all of my academic career – including middle school gym and calculus based physics at the University of South Alabama. I cleverly decided to take the class in a compressed summer term to minimize the length of my suffering through a music class.
In the summer of ’97 I enrolled in a music class with Dr. Don Odom. On the first day of class, my fears were quickly placated by the opening lecture by Dr. Odom. He began the class by saying that he knew that most of us did not want to be in the class and that we probably took it during the summer to get it over with as quickly as possible. Touché.
I learned more about worship from Dr. Odom than I ever imagined, and my hatred of music education softened to dislike over that summer. Dr. Odom told us many stories from his ministry. He told us that he was asked to sing “One Day at a Time” at a funeral service which includes the phrase “I’m just a woman” in its lyrics. If I remember correctly, he was paid $500 to sing the song.
Dr. Odom provided many practical applications for his students. He told us not to wave our hands if we ever led music unless we actually knew what we were doing. He encouraged us not to worry about having to lead music because if a church was small enough for us to be asked to lead music, then the people would probably just follow the piano player regardless of what we actually did.
One of the assignments we did in the music class was writing a sermon from a hymn. (I know it sounds heretical, but it was a music class.) At first I thought the assignment was rather dumb, but I must admit that for the first time I really paid attention to the words to the songs I was singing. I have never been able to look at a hymn the same way since that assignment. Words convey meaning. Words put to music convey meaning that can move us in ways that no other form of communication can.
I recently experienced a song that took me by surprise. The words were familiar, but the music was new. It took me back to my childhood, and reminded me of the joy of my salvation (Psalm 51:12). The song is called “O Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns. The old hymn is called, “One Day.” Maybe it will encourage you today.
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore.
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
One day He's coming—O glorious day!