“there was silence”
Something awesome happened in church today. And not “awesome” in the surfer-lingo, or teen-inspired, overused way we generally hear it. No, I mean full of awe. Awe-inspiring.
And the something that happened, was nothing. Or rather, the something was really a lack of something.
We were singing a new song, something I’d never heard before. And the worship band did something they often do, which is to stop playing the instruments for the last repeat of the chorus. It becomes this beautiful a capella that is just so worshipful. You can just hear the voices so well, ladies and men, and a little harmony thrown in. Lovely.
It was as the song ended that it happened. Or didn’t happen. Normally, as a song ends, one of three things happens: either the worship leader says a prayer (that’s usually after the last song, as the pastor approaches the lectern), or the worship band goes right into their next song, or sometimes the congregation breaks out in scattered applause. This is especially common when it’s an upbeat song and people are already clapping along. As the song ends, they just sort of turn the clapping into appreciation for the musicians, and acknowledgement that God is worthy of the praise.
But today, the song we were singing ended with this chorus:
“Glory to God in the highest, Glory to God
Glory to God in the highest, Glory to God”
It was sung in a slow and worshipful way, and as the last note died away, there was just silence. No words from up front, no clapping from the congregation, just silence.
It only lasted a moment or two, but it was significant to me. I thought about the half hour of silence mentioned in Revelation 8, after the seventh seal was opened. The previous chapter had a lot of praise and worship in it ~ “a great multitude… all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues… saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and the Lamb!'” and angels and elders and the four living creatures saying, ‘Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever…'” And a short time later, thirty minutes of very loud silence. Powerful and attention-getting.
I believe it was in response to the seal being opened, not necessarily in response to the praise that preceded it, but every time I read that passage, I think about how deafening that silence must have been. And though it only lasted for several seconds this morning, I was reminded how sacred and holy silence can be.