Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.


Still reverberating from just a terrific church-choir rehearsal last night.  Thursday night is the night during which 16-20 (or sometimes more) members of the Sudbury Methodist congregation get together to joke and laugh and enjoy each other’s company … and, oh, yes, sing a bit too. And… although the bulk of this post is reprinted from my contribution to Sudbury United Methodist Church’s Lenten reflections booklet of this past spring, my thoughts right now are not so different. So…

2 Corinthians 6: 6-15 (excerpts):

“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. … You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.”

Having been a public school music teacher for a decade now, I know teachers are often actors – we play a part, indeed – and there are times when we do in fact put on the guise of enthusiasm, or at least boundless energy. (Let’s just keep that between us!)

My college band director led an organization that is the very image of enthusiasm, and energy, and excitement, and he is a demonstration of the idea that “a band [or other organization] is a reflection of its director [leadership].” If you want to have an exciting group, be an exciting person! Or, as he has also said, “if you’re not enthusiastic, …fake it!!”

But another colleague of mine, a gentleman who gives motivational speakers a good name, once talked about enthusiasm as being not just bounciness for its own sake, but being derived from Greek words: “en – theos”, from God. At the time, I remember thinking, “I need to find out if that’s right.”

It is.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says:

en·thu·si·asm /n./ ( in-ˈthü-zē-ˌa-zəm, en-, also -ˈthyü- ). [Greek enthousiasmos, from enthousiazein to be inspired, irregular from entheos inspired, from en- + theos god]

1 a : belief in special revelations of the Holy Spirit;  b : religious fanaticism

2 a : strong excitement of feeling : ardor <did her work with energy and enthusiasm>; b : something inspiring zeal or fervor <his enthusiasms include sailing and fishing>

All I have to do, if I’m looking for enthusiasm, is look around Sudbury UMC. In my case, I get a weekly dose of it, in the form of our Choir. None of these people list “choir member” as their Occupation on their IRS forms. We don’t pay them. No one’s on scholarship. We sometimes feed them goodies after rehearsal, as a pale token of our appreciation. Their lives are as full and busy and crazy as anyone else in our society, yet they faithfully make time for choir.

For many, this may be the activity through which they most strongly and regularly express themselves as Christians. St. Augustine said, “when we sing, we pray twice.” Add to that helpful thought the inspiration, energy, excitement, and enthusiasm that our musicians bring to Sunday mornings, and you have the ingredients for a successful, effective and inspiring choir.

That was particularly evident at January’s end, when I had the privilege of standing in the midst of a pack of singers and string players as we brought Kevin Murphy’s Christmas Cantata to fully-realized life. Many, many, many times when I went to cue sections of the choir to sing various passages, the look on many choir faces was unmistakable: they were doing their best, working their hardest, bringing their “A-game” … their enthusiasm! … to the presentation, and the experience was raised from just a fine musical performance to something considerably greater.

Gloria in excelsis Deo. With enthusiasm.


October 29, 2010 - Posted by | choir, GNP, music, Starred Thoughts, SUMC | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Right on, Rob! With enthusiasm.

    Comment by Alison Condon | October 29, 2010 | Reply

  2. Rob-though my religious affiliation is different, I say “hear, hear”!


    Comment by Eric | November 1, 2010 | Reply

  3. Somehow, I missed this older blog. This is beautiful. Thank you, Rob! Thank you!

    Comment by Heather Felder | November 30, 2010 | Reply

  4. […] is a neat place to be. It’s a great community within a great community, which I’ve chronicled […]

    Pingback by Tebow Time -or- Choose Restraint « Editorial License | January 16, 2012 | Reply

  5. […] No, you’re allowed to be enthusiastic. A while back I researched the term “enthusiasm” and discovered that it does have grounding in matters of worship. I do […]

    Pingback by Deeply-Held Beliefs « Editorial License | July 2, 2014 | Reply

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