I took a deep cleansing breath, relaxed my shoulders and stretched my neck by tilting my head from side to side. I said, “Lord, tell me what it is that You want me to hear. What are You trying to say?” After performing the simplicity of these actions and deep meditation, the Lord led me to discover that my years of singing PSALM 98:1-9 in the congregation and as a cantor was a shallow interpretation of His greater meaning. We’ve sung this PSALM over and over again throughout the years, however, I didn’t realize that I was not singing it in the way that God intended me to sing it. The tune was ‘catchy’ and all I was doing was just singing. Upon greater reflection, I rediscovered the importance of listening first, before I could “authentically” speak, or in my case, sing….
Last night, God spoke to me in this psalm in a familiar musical fashion. At that very point, moment and time in my humble existence, He somehow knew that the Cantor Workshop conducted by the Diocese of San Bernardino would be the most effective method to convey his message to me. The presenter, Kathy Lindell, was God’s instrument in helping me understand how important it is to be an effective cantor, a communicator of God’s Word through song.
As I read the PSALM, I was struck by the words “All” and “have seen.” In those words alone, the gist of the PSALM was made known. I heard the Lord telling me, explaining to me that to truly understand the scope of His power is to grasp the fact there is no mystery when it comes to seeing all the good & marvelous things He has already done. In my own environment, I can simply look at my family, the innocence of my children, the kindness of my friends and be a witness to the fact that the Lord has showered me with His abundant blessings. Others can bear witness to the same blessings, through their own families as well as simply looking to the beauty of nature: seeing the depth of color in flowers, mountain views after the gusts of the Santa Ana Winds, the sky during a sunset, etc. For that reason, I can say and truly sing, “All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” (PSALM 98:3. New American Bible)
It’s amazing what you can discern when you just take the time to listen. We often think that when engaging in a conversation with the Lord we must constantly be mumbling some stylized prayer or even some sort of freestyle prayer. To have a true conversation with the Lord involves an exchange. According to the Webster Dictionary, the definition of conversation is an “oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas; an exchange similar to conversation.” Therefore, prayer cannot be a one-way channel; when we pray, we must not be afraid to be silent and listen to what the Lord wants of us.
At the cantor workshop, importance was placed on the act of taking the time to read, understand and reflect on the PSALM set for the mass because the cantor is exposed to the entire congregation. Human nature will cause others to make judgments on that cantor. Because the cantor is God’s messenger for the Word, authentic representation of scripture is key to helping others in their salvation which is the ultimate goal.
By reading the entire PSALM 98, I found it quite humbling. I felt that God with His infinite power & love for me was assuring me that the challenges I may be experiencing in my own life are minuscule in comparison to what His overall plan for my humble existence is. Through the cantor workshop and PSALM 98, I began to see that all He wants of me is to continue contributing my talents, to proclaim His goodness, and to remain His faithful instrument in ensuring that “All..have seen” or at least will see His promise, His love, strength & power, thus, have a heartfelt desire for His salvation. The act of singing in mass has forever been transformed to God’s personal invitation to show others how God has touched my own life through what I can emote through the PSALM.