Friday, April 9, 2010

30 Days of Hearing

Day 24: Antiphonal Psalms

We have had some uncharacteristic spring days for early April. Hence, windows have been opened. I’ve gone without a jacket. The daffodils, crocuses and Bradford pear’s have burst into glorious bloom. And the birds have been happy—oh, so happy!

I sat next to my open window early in the morning and listened to the delight in their songs. Chirping in a chorus of a dozen different voices, I drank in their delight as the sun was dawning. Then I noticed. One bird—I don’t know what kind—would call out and another would answer in like song—an antiphonal psalm.

Antiphony is a musical term that refers to a hymn or song sung alternately by two groups of singers. When I was a music major and played in brass ensembles, we often played antiphonal music. It has the quality of an echo; one section plays a melody and then the other section answers back. The effect is quite beautiful!

The little birds answering one another in antiphonal psalms reminded me of the liturgy in Roman Catholic or Episcopal churches that incorporate antiphonal responses as part of the liturgy. The echo of human voices reflects the contagious nature of praise. One group speaks forth their praise and the other answers in like fashion.

The birds clearly enjoyed “encouraging one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with gratitude in their hearts toward God.” (Colossians 3:16) Do I inspire an antiphony of psalms to be sung in my world? How might I spread a contagion of praise?

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