Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord

by Sanctified Brother

Noise, not a whisper and not a gentle ballad. Noise. It’s OK to make a joyful noise in church. The praise team came up to sing and started with Hymn #294, Power in the Blood. We sang it as if we were reading a bedtime story to a fawn. Come on, you have to sing that with some fire.

I was waiting for some single church sister in the back from down south to jump up and stamp her feet, shake a tambourine, snap her fingers, and lead us into a sassy vamp with a cataclysmic round of clapping and shaking that would bring the roof down. Excuse me: I grew up listening to R&B and soul artists push the boundaries of acceptability by mixing their grit and funk and soul with gospel, making the old deaconesses twist their stockings in distress. I remember husky riffs from strong brothers pouring out their soul, not this anaemic stuff.

Folks in church here seemed like they enjoyed the passivity. Not me. Bring on the bass guitar, the synchronized two-step, the cymbals, the heavy piano notes. There was nobody in there sweating out their perms and worrying about their edges. Come on, what is this?

The praise team kicked it up a few notches when they got to the other songs. The five string bass came out and played some emotional licks. The piano came in to balance out that funeral organ. Oh I was relieved that I could finally let a little soul slip out—too bad nobody else was grooving. When I looked around I saw peaceful faces smiling gently and rocking ever so softly like amber waves of grain.

I remember Psalm 150 saying that everything that has breath should praise the Lord, and you can praise the Lord with finger snapping, foot tapping, and neck bopping. Well, the folks in here aren’t going to boogie so I’ll start my own party. I closed my eyes and smiled, too, and in my head I was enjoying the music. I visualized myself getting down like Kanye in Gold Digger. Head bopping, neck snapping, hand waving my white pocket square, working up a sweat but not staining my crisp white shirt. Yep. Praising.

Hmm…maybe that’s what the other folks were doing when they were rocking gently with their eyes closed… Maybe this place isn’t so square after all…