by Brandon Stewart, Founding Dean & Musical Director
For the past few weeks, I have been moved by the youth and adults of MCO as they sing, “Praise to the Lord, oh let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath breath join with Abraham’s seed to adore Him!” These words cause me to wonder—do I give my ALL when I praise the Lord? Or do I just give a percentage? Am I half-hearted, 3/4-hearted, 7/8-hearted, or whole-hearted in my worship and adoration of Jesus Christ?
MCO is a spiritual laboratory. Each week thousands of people come and learn how it feels and sounds to praise God with their ALL. If you’ve been in my rehearsals, you have heard me say things like, “Don’t sing like wannies!” “Orchestra, dig in!” “No mamsy-pamsy singing!” “Choir, deliver!” “Passion!” “Sing from the earth!” All of these sayings are, in essence, conveying the same message: GIVE IT YOUR ALL!
Of course, in MCO we know this does not mean we just sing or play as loudly as we can. Anyone can shout or play loudly and harshly, but that is not what I am asking for. Over the years, I have developed a sixth sense for detecting when a group of singers or instrumentalists are fully committed to the art of praise. Something happens in the room—there are physical and spiritual changes in the bodies and faces of the musicians when they are fully committed. There is a powerful synergy and unity in the ensemble. This can happen on the quietest passages just as much as it can on the loudest passages. It is an inner commitment, a personal decision made by each musician to be fully engaged with their body, mind, and soul.
Join with Abraham’s Seed to Adore Him
Notice that the phrase doesn’t say, “Stand all on your own to adore Him” or “Sing or play a beautiful solo to adore Him.” No—it commands, “All that hath breath join WITH Abraham’s seed to adore Him!” Numerous verses of scripture underline the eternal nature of praising and singing with others. Here are just two of my favorites:
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest!’” (Luke 2:13–14).
And “Yea, methought I saw … God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there” (Alma 36:22).
Truly, of all the many activities we spend time doing, one of the few things we know we will be doing on the other side is singing praises to our Maker with throngs of heavenly hosts.
I am inspired and energized by the musicians of MCO. These incredible people cause me to give my all on the podium as their conductor. During times in my life when I doubt if I have anything left within me, I stand in front of them and remember why God has placed me on earth even with my heavy burdens, disappointments, and trials. When I join them in praising with ALL that is in me, the clouds part, the veil thins, and heaven is near.