By Ada Nicholson Brownell
I remember visiting as a child a friend whose parents owned a player piano. I was amazed when, after my friend inserted a roll of paper full of small holes, the piano began to by itself—the keys going down as if invisible fingers performed on them.
Later I learned the automatic piano wasn’t the only instrument technicians in the 1800s and early 1900s made to play by itself.
Ludwig Hupfeld produced automatic orchestras! The famed Johann Strauss said he was delighted with the orchestral music from Hupfeld’s machines. He found the euphony, fullness of tone, rhythm, and accentuation were reproduced accurately.
Even the violin, a difficult instrument for the best of musicians, was made into an automatic machine which could reproduce the sound of the virtuosos. One contraption consisted of three violins, a rotating bow, and “fingers” pneumatically activated) which depressed the strings at the desired moments.
The automatic instruments were popular and some machines with huge orchestrations sold for $5,000 to $10,000, and sometimes more. Player pianos became so common, however, they sold for as little as $250. Many of the machines can only be seen in museums today.
Fantastic as these inventions were, they still were not as thrilling as a live concert by the masters. The greatest thrill from many music lovers would come not from hearing music—live or otherwise—but from actually playing the instruments.
To be musically talented is a privilege, and some individuals are more talented than others. My daughter, Carolyn, was born with “perfect pitch.” She can tell what key or chord a musician is using, and can even tell on what note a vacuum sweeper hums, or what tone a glass gives when struck with a spoon.
On the other hand, some people are “tone deaf.” They can’t sing on key at all and have great difficulty playing any instrument.
One gift of music, however, is available to everyone, and that is the music of the soul. One of the first things a person who has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior wants to do is sing, talented or not. Like the Psalmist they can say, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God” (Psalm 40:2, 3).
Music is associated with joy, and the song Jesus gives is filled with joy. Someone said there have been more songs written about the Lord Jesus Christ than any person who ever lived, and that is because He gives a joyous song!
Recently I was in a revival meeting at our church (Abundant Life Christian Center in Arvada, Colorado) where the whole congregation began singing in the Spirit. The melody was spontaneous but filled with harmony and beauty I’d never heard before. The words were praises in prayer languages God gave each individual—yet over 300 voices blended as a mass choir. The talented and tone deaf blended in delightful harmony. The praise came from the soul not from training or natural talents, and the entire congregation was blessed in the awe-inspiring presence of God.
Today music doesn’t have to be played on automatic instruments—it is readily heard on radio, television, even quadraphonic stereo—but men and women long for the song of joy that comes from within.
Talented or not your soul can joyfully sing the song of eternal salvation by submitting your life to Heaven’s Maestro, the Lord Jesus Christ who died to fill your heart with melodies that will flow like a river. If you don’t know Him, I pray you will bow to Him now, and let the sweet harmony begin.
--THE PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL January 11, 1976