By John W. Hanson
“I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.” – George Eliot
Music has charms to soothe the savage breast to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak. -William Congreve
A thousand voices are subdued as the house lights fade to nothing but flickering embers floating in the recesses of the cavernous ceiling. Stage lights sparkle and dance upon the semi-circle of gleaming instruments, cradled reverently by a menagerie of immensely talented musicians. Suddenly, a stately figure sporting a long-tailed, black tuxedo confidently emerges from behind the stage curtains. Thunderous applause floods the chamber. The conductor gracefully mounts the central, raised platform and abruptly turns his back to the expectant audience.
The world waits. One hundred fifty eyes search the scores that rest on the music stands in front of them, then dart to their conductor. Utter silence taunts eager ears. Waiting. Anticipating. Hopeful.
Suddenly, the conductor’s slender, white baton ascends, strikes an apex, then swoops earthward igniting a fire of movement, rhythm and melody. The souls of performers and spectators alike are quickly and effectively swept into an amazing world of passion, victory, power, and joy; a world created by the great composer who now stands before this attentive orchestra, waving his arms purposefully as he superintends the performance of his own masterful work.
With pinpoint accuracy, he weaves together an abundant diversity of voices. Upon his command, and as ordained by the score, the spellbound listeners are privileged to savor the sounds of a wide selection of instruments such as the oboe, bassoon, contra bassoon, clarinet, violin, viola, double bass, harp, snare drum, timpani drum, cymbals, celesta, piccolo, French horn and baritone horn.
Hearts are arrested, accosted and then soothed as the symphony gains strength and is revealed in all of its grandeur. What a glorious ride is afforded the crowd who is carried along by ever-changing tempos, dynamics, and moods. The conductor calls forth each note at its assigned measure, volume and pitch.
Time is suspended as each hearer is treated to musical sensations of swelling, bubbling, leaping, and gurgling. Then, in a moment, with a stroke of the baton, the conductor suddenly transforms the atmosphere by demanding that notes be combined in such a way that one feels this musical creation strutting, flowing, erupting, and even rumbling. Emotions are carried high and low. One’s body tenses and relaxes as the music escalates, pulsates and then subsides.
At times the conductor’s baton halts in mid air. Absolutely every participant suspends what he is doing. Resting … anticipating … trusting the conductor as he awaits his cue to resume activity. Then, with a wave of his hand, each maestro commences to contribute his very best to the performance.
How striking and beautiful this diverse group has become by working together in unity and cooperation under the direction of their conductor. Many individuals who are in attendance have now transcended their sorrow and have begun to soar in their spirits. So many instruments have joined forces and created such a magnificent effect that improvement is hard to imagine. Yet there is more; as the strings softly serenade, a glance of the conductor’s eye cues the pianist who has been patiently awaiting an opportunity to minister.
The soloist’s hands float atop gleaming ivories, magically filling the entire hall with grace and beauty. No one else is conspicuous during this portion of the symphony.
Instead, everyone thrills to the success of the pianist. Everyone revels in the skill that is blessing the multitudes. In submission to the conductor, the soloist showcases the work of the composer and takes the crowd to new powerful encounters with music. Onlookers are captivated as they stare at the well-trained fingers advancing, convulsing, rippling, tremoring, moaning, swooning, floating, and retreating on the eighty-eight keys which are obediently responding to the touch of a talented artist.
But alas, the soloist, too, is quieted and the orchestra embarks on one final movement. With skill and finesse the conductor rallies his troops to a grand finale. Each and every musician faithfully attends to his leader’s every beck and call. Such fullness and power reverberates through the auditorium until the time has come and the work is finished. The conductor’s baton makes one more dramatic circle in the sky. Each musician ceases his work and, momentarily, the air is heavy with silence.
It is only then that the effect upon the crowd is evident. Emotionally empowered patrons jump to their feet. Hands crash together enthusiastically. The conductor turns to face his audience. There is a surge in the applause as he bows. He then graciously gestures toward the soloist, soliciting yet another burst of gratuitous praise. Finally, with a wave of his hand, he acknowledges the musicians. The audience is so moved that even when the conductor has exited the stage they remain standing and clapping, until he emerges for another expression of adoration. Broad smiles. Wet eyes. Exhilaration. Everyone present recognizes that he has heard the work of a master, and that such a work could not be played, and such an orchestra could not be possible, if it were not for the leadership of this great conductor.
Thus concludes an exhilarating evening of culture at the grand old symphony hall. Several hours later as I lay in bed, the power of the master’s music lingers. My soul soars. I stare contently into the glorious, starlit heavens. Soon thereafter, whether dreaming or envisioning I do not know, I am suddenly aware of a staggering realization that a much greater Composer stands upon an enormous stage, omnisciently conducting the greatest masterpiece of all time and that I am right smack dab in the middle of it.
Time the Master’s Symphony in G Minor
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it -H.E. Luccor
In the vast, and the minute, we see the unambiguous footsteps of the God, who gives its lustre to an insect’s wing and wheels His throne upon the rolling worlds. -William Cowper
Angels are His audience. The universe is His performance hall. The score has been written; every detail thought out and arranged so as to maximize the effect. God steps onto the stage and mounts His platform. The audience knows that unprecedented creativity is about to be revealed. A beautiful and tumultuous series of events is about to be unleashed. Heaven holds its breath as it awaits the down-stroke which will birth time. God’s own excitement is unconcealed, for He is about to set in motion a series of movements that will restore balance to the universe, thereby proving His justice, His goodness and His greatness.
One can’t help but notice that the orchestra pit is populated only with angels. But, both The Composer and the audience seem to understand the power of This Conductor. He not only composes and conducts, but He recruits each player for His prestigious orchestra. Although not yet on stage, in The Conductor’s mind each believer is already effectively poised to declare His glory when their precise moment has come.
The Great Composer/Conductor glances at the score. He sees the beginning from the ending. He thrills at the joint effort upon which He and His orchestra are about to embark. Each musician will be given an opportunity to profess the glory of God. He is counting on their diligence and enthusiasm. But, it is He that will insure a grand performance. The expectation is tangible.
The first movement of “Time” is about to begin. God raises His mighty hand. Punctually, The Creator’s baton slices through the atmosphere. A mighty voice pierces the universe. The score reads con fuoco; with fire. The audience rejoices as they witness the transformation of a void and formless planet. There is a blaze of light. Land is drawn out of the deep. Life springs forth, resulting in polyphony of beauty and diversity. Planets, landforms, plants and animals commence to testify of and adore their Maker. Animals braying, howling, chirping, meowing, screeching, hissing and hooting.
Branches waving, leaves rustling and flowers releasing their sweet aroma to waft throughout the earth. Wings swooping, flapping, waving and whirring. The oceans clapping against the seashore, the wind whistling through trees and rivers roaring through canyons. Such astonishing beauty!
Then The Conductor bends low, touching His baton to the earth. He breathes life into His crowning creation; mankind emerges, creatures made in the image of God Himself. One male and one female, who will be the seed of many, thereby producing billions of others who will have opportunity to participate in this incredible symphony. People through whom The Composer will build kingdoms, create songs, author poems, and write stories of praise and adoration. Individuals who are free to laugh, cry, shout, clap and dance unto the Lord of their own free will. Though the audience cannot see His face, The Conductor’s expression reflects immense satisfaction. The symphony is everything He had hoped for. His eyes survey all He has made. Behold, it is very good.
The baton then points to this newly created duet and they begin to softly play. In obedient response to The Conductor’s cue and the notation dolce on their score, they play sweetly, their strings emitting a melody that blissfully glides along as The Creator shares intimate communion with His creation in the garden of paradise. Man is wonderfully cared for as he tends the earth and God thrills to the partnership and fellowship He now enjoys.
Then, suddenly, the audience winces at the mournful intrusion of another sound the voice of a serpent, luring God’s creation to acts of disobedience which lead to death. The second movement has begun. The score reads diminuendo and the music dwindles. A tone of sadness fills the earth.
Sounds of turmoil assault the listeners as pages of history are turned. A great chasm now separates The Creator from His beloved creation. God’s heart aches as sin abounds. In an effort to restore fellowship, The Conductor waves His baton wildly, beckoning thunder, earthquakes and a cataclysmic deluge which, for millenniums to come, will leave physical evidence of God’s divine judgment throughout the entire planet.
A feeling of hopelessness permeates the universe as the Conductor searches His orchestra for a man, someone who will catch His eye and respond to the invitation to play a tune of hope and faith.
People of Faith
Pulses quicken as Abraham acknowledges the call and the symphony marches into a movement in which God covenants with man. First largo, then andante, the music advances slowly, then moderately. Hope rises as more men and women of faith yield their lives to the production of this amazing piece of work.
The orchestra is joined by Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and even Rahab, the harlot. Each responding to the specific direction of their Conductor, obeying the score as each new page is revealed. “And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:32-39)
To God be the glory!
From time to time soloists like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Amos, Elijah are heard above the rest as they call out for justice and obedience. How often in this movement The Conductor appeals to His people to keep their eyes on Him, turn from their idolatry and tell the world of His goodness. The joyful music of faith and salvation was intended to permeate every culture and tribe on the planet. The faithful were to be center-stage. Their love affair was to resound throughout the earth testifying of the greatness of the Mighty God.
The score reads affettuoso. The Conductor is calling for His people to play with feeling but to no avail. Sadly the baton slows to a fixed position and the music dies. Silence hangs heavy in the air. The baton remains suspended. But, the symphony is not finished. The best is yet to come.
The Anointed One
After what feels like an eternity, The Conductor once again thrusts His baton earthward, igniting yet a third movement featuring the joyous melodies of a New Covenant and the stupendous performance of the greatest Maestro of all time. As the baton bounces vibrantly, angels can be heard proclaiming the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, the Messiah.
Then with a burst of activity, including miracles, dreams and angelic appearances, the symphony sparkles and shines. The music shouts, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, Good will toward men.” The Conductor directs shepherds, carpenters, kings and wise men as the central figure of all time breaks into “time,” and begins His work of reconciliation.
The past and the present look hopefully toward Jesus Christ, as The Conductor indicates that it is time for Him to perform the solo that will end all solos. Con amore (with love) and mercy Jesus looses a barrage of forgiveness, deliverance, healing and teaching that reverberates through the lives of the audience, the performers and The Conductor alike. How refreshing it is as the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and to the poor the gospel is preached. Such celebration and joy! The audience is ecstatic and ready for many stanzas of this happy tune.
Shockingly, however, The Conductor abruptly changes tempo. The score dictates agitato an agitated gait. While The Soloist’s notes of love remain steady, a dramatic shift in the background music causes everyone present to lurch in their seats. A cacophony of sound blares out declarations of evil and mourning mixed with a bit of victory.
Each heart feels sharp pangs as the God who robed Himself in flesh is betrayed, forsaken, politically sabotaged, mocked, crowned with thorns, beaten, forced to carry his own cross, nailed to a tree, and spit upon. The righteous weep. The unrighteous mock. Yet, this is The Soloist’s finest hour His love song resounds in spite of the assaulting noise that attempts to drown it out. “The servant grew up before God a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him; our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.
He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off, and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.” (Isaiah 53:2-9 the Message)
Oh how He loved His creation!
“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:28-30) to the uninformed listener the music elicits feelings of depression and despair. Mournful sounds swirl throughout the corridors of the universe as the Messiah’s garments are parted and His side is punctured. Some gasp as the earth shakes, the temple veil is ripped and many believers explode out of their graves; God’s justice has been satisfied!
Sorrowfully and grievingly, the music plays for three long days, until The Conductor throws His hands into the air. The score commands every musician to play vivace. The earth shudders. A stone is moved. The Victor emerges. Death and Hell have been overcome! A glorious sound of triumph reverberates throughout the cosmos. The Conductor is smiling. The angelic hosts are worshipping God and declaring: “He is risen!” Jesus has redeemed mankind with His precious blood and has risen, victorious!
The Great Soloist is still playing strong. He plays to those who have chosen to follow Him, “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
With a demonstration of power, He commissions His followers to blanket the earth with His Gospel. Then, in defiance of gravity The Messiah ascends, declaring that He is going away to prepare a place for those who love Him. He’s alive. The gap has been closed. As the baton pauses, applause can be heard throughout the great hall as the audience recognizes that no man has ever played like this man. Joy has been restored to the symphony.
The Anointed Ones
Again, every eye is on The Conductor. They wait … for ten days they tarry. And when the Day of Pentecost is fully come The Conductor looses a flurry of activity con brio – with spirit. The world shakes with the rumbling of a rushing mighty wind, the babbling of tongues, cries of repentance, and thousands proclaiming the name of Jesus as they are baptized in water. God has come to live in the hearts of men. Signs and wonders follow those who believe. What glory! What music!
The disciples play fervently into the fourth movement, the movement of the Church, which will include many ensuing generations of true believers. Their eyes constantly searching for Their Conductor and then deciphering the score. Some leading great revivals. Some dying for their faith. All of them trusting and obeying. Centuries of faith played with forte. The Conductor is still smiling. I think He is looking at me!
This article was from the book “My Conductor: An Allegory of the Spirit led Life” By: John W. Hanson