by Ciel Tagaza
In music, the rests between notes are as significant as the notes themselves. Imagine listening to someone talking who did not stop for breath or proper phrasing. It would be difficult to make sense of the endless, monotonous stream of words.
Pauses allow the music to breathe and the listener to absorb each musical segment before the next one begins. Rests can be used for effect, to add strength to the rhythm and create dynamic balance between musical activities.
Likewise with worship it is essential, especially for worship leaders, to make space for silence. Our quiet reflection and private contemplation are as important as our audible, charismatic worship. They give depth to our praises and add conviction to the words we speak. It’s not the quantity of our words but the quality of our prayers that God perceives.
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.”
Matthew 6:7 NABRE
The priest Zechariah’s Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79) sprung forth from 9 months of imposed silence. His muteness throughout his wife Elizabeth’s pregnancy most probably led him to dig deep, reflect on God, His message and his relationship with Him. He could have asked himself why he did not believe Angel Gabriel’s words. Had he lost the love and faith he used to have? He was possibly confronted by such hard questions because that’s what happens when we quiet down: we become more introspective and intuitive. Zechariah couldn’t speak; he might as well ponder. By the time his tongue was loosened from its bondage, Zechariah’s response after silent contemplation was blessing and praise.
Pause for affect. Just as rests are a part of music, silence is an integral element of worship. It is in the silence, when we pause and reflect on God’s message, that we absorb His love for us and rediscover our love for Him more profoundly before we can respond in heartfelt praise. We may speak the loudest, even with much zeal, but our words may be lacking in content if we do not take time to ponder God’s word and let it sink into our heart.
“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”
1 Corinthians 13:1 NABRE