I was in a very thankful frame of mind recently (I try to be in that frame of mind all the time) and was thinking about God’s incredible gift of music. It is such an amazing blessing that enriches our lives, and in worship… powerfully draws us closer to Him! That’s the goal isn’t it? That we would be drawn closer to Him and learn to love Him more so that we become more like Him. Music has driven my life for most of the years I have been alive! I knew when I was around 16 years old that I wanted to be a high school band director. Subsequently, that was my life pursuit. I became a high school band director and then a college band director, and knew that I had a passion for doing this.
Early in my teaching career the minister of music at our church asked if I would consider starting an instrumental ensemble at the church. We began in 1971 with a hodgepodge of instrumentalists. We had a few high school players and a few folks who had not seen their instruments in years. I had no idea what we were going to do with this group of around seven players, but God had a plan. You see, this group containing burgeoning young musicians and more mature folks who used to play was going to be the foundation of a church orchestra. The instrumentation was so unique it would be very difficult to find any music for them to play. S=o…I started writing arrangements for the group to accompany the choir on anthems that had no orchestrations available. We also played along with the congregational singing right out of the hymnal. (Remember those?) Anyway, long story a little shorter, this was the beginning of God’s plan for my life to change into full time ministry. And, each player’s life was changed magnificently by using their God-given talents for His glory! Most of those players from the early days at our church are still playing in the very same church orchestra! That’s over 40 years of music ministry for many of them!!! 40 years!!!
Those talented musicians need this outlet for their worship, and to lead and encourage others in worship as well. I am consistently hearing of churches who are doing away with their orchestra programs in favor of more contemporary ensembles to lead their worship. Please understand that I am a pretty eclectic musician in my music tastes, and I do enjoy a broad spectrum of music. I am not opposed to “new” music in the church by any means. Also, I know that cultures grow and change, but it should not be at the expense of involving more people in worship. The orchestra at my present church is running around 40 players playing every Sunday. 40 is a small church! What if these musicians did not have that outlet to use their God-given talents? I am reminded by something I saw in a great movie called Chariots of Fire. Eric Liddell, who ran in the 1924 Olympics for the UK, made this statement when explaining to his sister how important running was in his life. He said, “God also made me fast…and when I run, I feel His pleasure!”
Shouldn’t we all have the opportunity to “feel God’s pleasure” when we use the talents and gifts He gave us? What better place to do that than in worshipping Him.
Let’s keep our musicians – ALL of them – busy in worshipping God through their God-given talents and gifts!
Camp Kirkland, recognized as the pioneer in instrumental church music, is a highly skilled educator, clinician, and spokesman, as well as a brilliant arranger and orchestrator. He has over one thousand publications in his catalog from every major publisher of church music today. When not directing the orchestra at his church, Judson Baptist in Nashville, Camp plans mission trips for musicians around the world through Global Missions Project.