Children’s programs at church have such a wide scope of experience for the persons in the congregation. Depending on the choral leaders and the sound capabilities of the church, special music done by children can be almost professional. Or they can be…something altogether otherwise. Still, it’s a good opportunity for children to get up there and bring a Gospel message, of a sort, and hone the life skill (?) of performing in front of people. And make their parents proud. I’ve been among those parents. Now I’m enjoying the musical adventures of other parents’ children until the coming of grandchildren who will mesmerize me with their musical giftings.
For now, I want to tell you a story of young girl who was handed a mic on a Sunday night at a church where my husband was to speak. This story came to my remembrance after watching a video from my Facebook feed. Sometimes I regret clicking on these videos for all the time burned watching them. This one was different – a little girl singing Amazing Grace with a voice mature beyond her years and a poise also of a strikingly older girl as well.
Not so with the girl in my story. She walked up to the podium with more courage than poise. She was a 5th or 6th grader, lacking the fashion-sense of an older middle schooler. Thin, a bit thrown-together in her clothing choices, and her hair a little wild in someone’s harried attempt to bring it under control for this occasion.
I was cringing a little as the minister of music handed her the mic and positioned her on the stage. It had the feel of a darling little girl who might have asked for this opportunity, not having proved herself previously, but a decision based on kindness. Now, her eyes were wide with the reality of the moment.
She sang without benefit of words before her…and actually sang fairly well through the first two verses of Amazing Grace. Her face was expression-less as she stared out into the congregation (maybe having had the coaching of “just look at heads, not faces” to still any fear she might have had).
“Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ’d!”
And then came the third memory-making verse…she sang the first two lines as she’d sung the previous verses. Standing straight, with her little shoulders squared, staring with resolve into the audience:
“Thro’ many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;”
And then she stopped. Frozen. It was obvious she could not, for the life of her, remember what came next.
Probably every adult in that church knew what words came next. This song has been a part of church tradition for centuries. We know this song. I think every one of us sat up, leaned forward, and did all we could to will those words back in her mind. Some of us might have even prayed for her. I was searching the front of the church for her parents, a teacher, the minister of music. If there were any mouthing the words for her, she did not see them – her eyes transfixed on the crowd in front of her.
And then, after what seemed an eternity, with no observable change at all in her face or posture, she found the words:
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
Glory! A collective sense of relief washed over the people. And right then, if not before, we worshipped. In fact, I have probably not experienced any more rich a moment of corporate worship as when those words tumbled out of her mouth.
It’s grace. All grace really…that brings us safe thus far. And grace will lead us home.
I honestly can’t remember if she sang the last verse alone…or if we joined her. Whichever it was, with tears in many of our eyes, we silently or loudly, sang the rest with her. This little girl, with a mic, and a moment of grand deliverance. Thanks be to God.
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.”