The song that silenced the cappuccino machine.
It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January,but it’s enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth.
For a musician, it’s the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world.
I’m told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. Apparently, we were striking all the right chords
that night, because our basket was almost overflowing.
It was a fun, low-pressure gig – I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the ’40s to the ’90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During our emotional rendition of the classic, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.
After the tune was over, she approached me. “I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?” she asked.
“No,” I replied. “We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing
up front on the next selection?”
To my delight, she accepted my invitation. “You choose,” I said. “What are you in the mood to sing?”
Before you can ever jump on stage and sing any new song there is a process of seven steps to help you perform it correctly and well. You need to study the piece and prepare it properly. This component study involves seven detailed parts, text, rhythm, meter, and tempo, melody, form, voice, harmony, and dynamics, phrasing and musical articulation. Reading through the text of the song silently first ...
“Well. . do you know any hymns?”
Hymns? This woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. “Name one.”
“Oh, I don’t know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.”
“Okay,” I replied. “How about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’?”
My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, “Yeah. Let’s do that one.”
She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing.
Why should I be discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen.The song rose to its conclusion.
I sing because I’m happy;
I sing because I’m free.
For His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.
When the last note was sung, the applause crescendo to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, “Oh, y’all go back to your coffee! I didn’t come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get somethin’ to drink, just like you!”
But the ovation continued.. I embraced my new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!”
“Well, it’s funny that you picked that particular hymn,” she said.
“Why is that?”
“Well . ..” she hesitated again, “that was my daughter’s favorite song.”
“Really!” I exclaimed.
“Yes,” she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual.. “She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week.”
I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. “Are you going to be okay?”
In his poem Eliot paints the picture of an insecure man looking for his niche in society. Prufrock has fallen in with the times, and places a lot of weight on social status and class to determine his identity. He is ashamed of his personal appearance and looks towards social advancement as a way to assure himself and those around him of his worth and establish who he is. Throughout the poem the ...
She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. “I’m gonna be okay. I’ve just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything’s gonna be just fine.” She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.
Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it.
God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it’s no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and singing his songs, everything’s gonna be okay.
The next time you feel like GOD can’t use YOU, just remember…
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rehab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zacchaeus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer…AND
Lazarus was dead!
God’s Love Is Not Dependent
In the decision to discuss two topics included within this reflection paper I have been led to discuss two doctrines that are close to all Christians. The comfort of God and the glory of God are the two doctrines that I have focused on over the last several weeks. The comfort of God has touched me at times over the course of my life however, never as much as it has over the last year. I wish to ...