Living joyfully through a variety of worship services this past holiday season, I realized how many descants I’ve heard during that time. As you might imagine, “This got me to thinking….”
In its original Latinate form, a descant was a cantus (voice) set apart. Connected loosely to the emergence of polyphonic (many-voices) musical styles, the descant was a melody—usually sung or played at a pitch above the rest of the music—that added special emphasis to the words of a hymn on carol. Descants have assembled themselves among the music of high liturgical festivals, especially Christmas. Because of their higher pitch—sung by sopranos—descants may suggest the singing of angels.
What have I been thinking as I enjoyed the beauty of these glorious melodies? First, descant-sopranos probably have fun singing more than the usual melodies. They must certainly realize how their descants bring worshippers to joyful emotions, helping folks sing even more fervently. Another thought; Not all of us get to be sopranos! (A descant probably wouldn’t work for any other voice!)
So what can we do when these extra-beautiful melodies suddenly emerge on top of the worship tunes that we sing with all the gusto we can muster?
One idea: Because of these worship experiences, we could “live the descant.” Rejoicing in what’s gloriously godly about the words of the songs we’ve sung during these festivals. Thinking above-and-beyond thoughts about the positive effects of our lives—being glad for the ways we bring special joy to others. Becoming special emphasis folks—adding grace and splendor to the daily work of people around us. In our attitudes and actions, trying to soar above what’s (already beautiful) ordinary. Like God’s holy angels, looking for opportunities to bear witness to all of God’s good news in whatever we do or say.
Yes, this entry is about what’s lovely, wonderful and inspiring about our lives. Not a bad way to live any day. Every day….