MUSICAL MUSINGS: The Harmony of Community

By Scott Rieker

Director, Emerson Choir


On Sunday, June 25, the worship service at Emerson will center on choral music. The choir will sing about nine musical pieces that highlight the role of music in the human experience. As I plan the service, I consider many factors, such as “What pieces does the choir already know?” “What pieces can we prepare in the intervening rehearsals?” “What pieces have a coherent message when combined?”

Emerson Choir

This is also how we can build healthy and fruitful communities. What experiences do we already have in common? These are what we build on as a foundation. What capacities do we have? Each of our members has gifts and talents, so the goal is to discover how best those can be synergized into a vibrant organization. What is our common vision? We can have shared experiences and maximize our capacities, but without a shared vision, we will be working at cross-purposes.

Last month, I proposed that our own suffering gives us strength and the suffering of others gives us purpose. How can we find common vision amidst our unique gifts (and our disagreements)? In music we sing in a key, but sometimes people have to sing notes that “don’t fit” in the harmony. We have a meter, but there are times when parts sing counterpoint with one another. We have lyrics, even though we may not all be singing the same words at the same time. These all provide our touchstones of unity.

In action, even with disagreements and differences of gifts, common purpose is born out of the desire to alleviate the suffering of others. In fact, those differences make our endeavor beautiful and effective. While we may not be singing the same words at the same time, if we’re singing the same song, complexity adds beauty and depth.

May your summer be a time of strength and purpose. May you discover your uniqueness and how it fits into the larger whole. May our song be strong.