Singing Harmony

I love to sing. But let me get something straight here. I’ve got what might best be described as a voice made for a choir. I can hit the right pitch, read music, adjust my dynamics, and really belt it out. Put me with a few dozen other singers, and we can really make some lovely sounds. But pull me out of the choir, put a microphone in front of me, and ask me to carry the tune solo, and we’ve got a recipe for disaster.

I’m even more limited when asked to sing anything other than melody. I learned fairly early on that not only was I unable to pick out the harmony part by ear, even when placed next to other tenors who were also singing harmony, I had trouble sticking with them. I naturally gravitated over to the melody part. Unfortunate for anything but unison singing, to say the least.

But, oh how lovely can harmony be! I was in church the other week, and the congregation was singing “Amazing Grace,” when one of the female vocalists came in on the final verse with a gorgeous harmony part. I was struck then, as I am nearly every time I hear a good harmony vocal, how the beauty of a harmony vocal can illuminate even the most familiar of songs. The melody is sharper, clearer, and it sings more beautifully, because of it. It was like hearing the song for the first time.

Here’s a confession I’m hoping you might resonate with: for much of my life, I’ve had a tendency to view my talents and creative giftings with a good deal of insecurity, as if the fact that my gifts weren’t incredible, world-changing, or spectacular – especially when compared with certain others – they weren’t worth sharing at all. Too often, I’ve found myself paralyzed by the anxiety over coming up short, being discovered to be not quite good enough with my creative giftings. As a result, I’m forgone the whole endeavor and remained silent, my microphone switched off, my mouth shut.

But it strikes me I’m looking at this gift thing all wrong.

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