So I spoke with Him. He was a bit grumpy. He was dealing with a multitude of issues, from floods and hurricanes and wildfires, to bumbling fools heading up a couple of (unnamed) countries. Precious little time to consider the common man such as myself. I went straight to the question, without beating around the (burning) bush: “Can you sing?”. God immediately became quite pensive, with one hand stroking his long white beard (he was quite old), and a look of tranquility on his face. He seemed to be relieved that here was a question of great significance, but without the urgency of an environmental catastrophe or an inane tweet that would have required an immediate response.
“Sing? Can I sing?” God wondered why He was being asked such a profound question that could be answered with a simple yes or no. “I need a bit more information, if you don’t mind. Is there a particular song that you had in mind? I have written literally millions of songs over the millennia. You can find them all on iTunes”. I replied that no, I was more interested in singing in the general sense. “God, can you sing, and perhaps as a corollary, do you sing, and as a corollary to the corollary, do you like to sing?”
God looked down at the sky and asked if He could get back to me, that it would only take a moment. Boy, can God ever work fast. Within what was less than a moment, He replied, simply, but most eloquently, in that booming voice that he is famous for, “Yes. Yes to can I sing and yes to the other two things that you had asked about. My memory isn’t as good as it was a few thousand years ago, about 5778 of them”.
God explained: “In that ever so brief moment, I consulted with three people of stature in the community. The first was a retired Minister in the United Church of Canada, Reverend John Ambrose of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, North America. “I don’t know if You can sing”, he said. “You implanted song in us long before religious bodies were formed. We have always put feelings and thoughts into song. In fact, You have never been as prolific as You are now. I think it is Your response to everything the world is facing these days”.
God thought that was a very good answer, very deep, very profound. “I guess the Reverend has never actually heard me sing, but he still feels that I had an influence very early on”. God wanted to thank him, but the Reverend had gone to prepare his sermon for this Sunday’s service. “I have always said, don’t disturb someone writing about me. I just wish they would let me proof read it !”
God was obviously excited by the Reverend’s insights. So He continued: “Next, I spoke with Musical Director Ellen Asherman, of a Reform congregation in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city”. God liked Canada very much, and felt that Canadians would be excellent people to interview. And maybe one of them would give Him the recipe for poutine. Quite delicious, but unfortunately too fattening. “God, get back on track !!”, I implored him. He does get easily sidetracked.
Ellen said that if the Man upstairs didn’t sing, then where would music have come from? It is so special that it is heaven sent. Music is God’s gift to mankind” “What a beautiful quote !” God said, as He danced around with joy. “I wish I had said it!” Ellen continued on to say that for a lot of people, the musical liturgy is how we pray.
“Lastly, I spoke with a Cantorial Soloist from a beautiful Reform synagogue in Hamilton. By the way, I hear they are changing its motto. “The new steel is art”. Nice. I would love to find a good artist to paint a new portrait of Me. It has been about a thousand years since the last one, and I think My beard has grown longer since then. I want people to recognize Me when they come up here to meet Me and have to stick around for, well, the rest of eternity. Oops, sorry. I digress once again. Maybe I should see a doctor. Lots of those up here. Most of them Jewish. OK, back to your questions. I will try to stay focussed. Which reminds me, I need to change my glasses prescription. I should find an eye doctor. Lots of those up here. Most of them Jewish. OK already !! I will get to that Cantor !! Stop bugging me !!”
“Cantor Paula Baruch said that most definitely I could sing. Very flattering. She had some really good one liners such as “Musicians are drawn to their craft because they hear You singing”. “Good accompanists know how to pray through their playing”. “Tie a kite string to a musical piece that will elevate the congregant”. Paula said that there is a mantra across all religions that says, “When we sing, we pray twice”. “I had set that beauty to song a few years ago, along with my buddy, Michael Ochs. I gave him all the credit though, down on earth”.
“There. I did it. So what do you think?” asked God.
God had presented his case, a rather convincing one. It allowed me to put all of His wisdom together, to answer my original question, as to whether or not He can sing. The obvious conclusion is that not only can God sing, but God likes to sing. He wouldn’t have invented music if He didn’t like it. And what kind of singing makes God the happiest? It is when the congregation sings right along with Him. The world is a better place because of it. Maybe those despots should sing their tweets.
Bill Shugar is a retired teacher and music therapist. He moved from Ottawa to Dundas a little over a year ago, with his wife Fortunée (it takes at least 16 tries to get that accent in her name. Darn auto correct). His wit and charm point to a life of journalistic excellence. His Mom wanted him to be a doctor. Oh well.
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