It was such an exciting, heady time. I was 17, and by some inexplicable happenstance, had been chosen to be a part of The Rosedale Chorale. It was the 1970-71 school year at Rosedale Bible Institute, and what a wonderful time we had!
I say inexplicable because I do not have all that great a voice. Even our director, John O. Yoder, had admitted one time that I had pretty much gotten into Chorale on the basis of experience, more so than talent, but it didn’t really make a difference. Once you were in, you were in, and I wasn’t about to leave of my own free will. So. I stayed.
We did the usual routine of Chorale Tour and made the customary record. We gals all had red dresses of the double knit variety—and those things wore like iron. Night after night, program after program, we persevered, and it was the kind of thing that forever memories are made of.
Then our director got the bright idea that we should come back to the recording studio, Heralds of Hope, and record another session of music that would be useful for his father, J. Otis Yoder’s, weekly radio program. It suited most of us to do that, and back we went when school was out for the year.
We were good! (I’m certain of it!) John was a good director, but there was a lot of talent, clear voices, deep voices, with that tight, glorious harmony and the wonderful, old, timeless hymns of the church sung in classic, pure arrangements that are just so traditional Mennonite. (It makes my heart ache to remember that sound!)
I said before that I don’t have that great a voice. It wasn’t all that great back then, and it has deteriorated over the years. It has gotten “reedy” and mostly lets me down on anything over the “Middle C” mark. Gone are the days when I could sing for hours, and even longer gone are any illusions of grandeur. Exposure to truly great voices has played a part in that, as well as something that happened during one of the final days of the recording session.
I was feeling unusually optimistic that particular morning. I was singing with all my heart and soul and voice, and putting lots of expression into my efforts. To be honest, I thought I was doing pretty well, sounding good. But then:
Brother John spent a little time over on our side of the chorale, listening to us wondrous sopranos with interest. I thought he was paying unusually close attention, and I redoubled my efforts. Just singin’ my heart out.
Imagine my surprise when he paused beside me between songs and looked kindly at me. “Be a little careful,” he said softly, “of the noise you are making this morning.”
I toned it down kinda’ gradual like. I didn’t want to admit that I was making “noise” and I for sure hoped that no one heard what he had said to me. Oh, yes. And my feelings were hurt, my confidence shaken.
But I’ve thought about that incident many, many times in the years since then. Sometimes when I think I am really doing really good as a Christian, sometimes when it seems to me that what I’m doing is noteworthy or impressive or laudable, that my song is soaring, sweet and notably above the others, I remember those quiet words: “Be careful of the noise you are making,” and I am set back on my proverbial heels. What sounds so wonderful to our ears just might be “noise” in the ears of our Heavenly Father, as well as the rest of the world.
What this world needs is a song of hope and comfort and peace and JESUS, not some self-righteous noise coming from a prideful heart. That kind of noise can ruin the sound of the whole chorus – the music of the mighty chorus of the Church of Jesus Christ. How often we are just making noise?
I don’t know about you, but I’m resolving once again to be a little more careful of the noise I’m making.