Charism of Music

Definition: Writing or performing music for the delight of others and the praise of God.

Testimony for the Charism of Music

When I filled in the Called and Gifted personal inventory, I scored 15 for Music – but I still found it hard to believe this was really a charism. I just didn’t think I was good enough technically. I only learned piano to Grade 4 and I still have difficulty reading and playing from sheet music unless it’s really easy. I didn’t think my voice was that good either because it tended to ‘crack’ at unexpected moments! However, Called and Gifted has given me the confidence to step out in faith and trust God to use my charism for blessing others.

“As soon as you played the first few bars I found myself being drawn into worship.”

I started playing music in church out of a sense of duty, really. I was the only child in my family to have had the opportunity for music lessons, from age 13-15, so I felt a sense of responsibility to use it for other people.
Then, when I was sixteen, my brother asked me to play at his wedding, so I wrote out simplified versions of the hymns and practised like mad! My parish priest then asked me to start with playing just one hymn each Sunday, and progressed to playing the organ regularly at mass. I never really enjoyed it much because I felt I wasn’t good enough and got anxious.

As an adult, I somehow ended up running a church choir, which I did for 25 years. I still didn’t really enjoy it – even though the members did! And I used to have nightmares (literally) before playing at a wedding.

I also wrote pieces of music too, especially for use in church when I wasn’t happy with what we were using, which were well received, although I was not good at writing accompaniments. Eventually I wrote a whole mass setting for our new Youth Music Group.

“Things really changed for me during the Called and Gifted process as I explored the possibility that God might actually be using my music for His purposes.”

I rooted all my music – playing, singing and writing – much more in prayer, and stepped out in faith, saying ‘yes’ to things I would never previously have done.

I rewrote my arrangement of the Mass and offered it to our parish – and was astonished at the response! One lady told me, ‘as soon as your Gloria started I got Goosebumps all over. I turned to my husband and said ‘this is really Spirit filled!’

“You really communicate when you play.”

My singing voice had improved in recent years and I was taken aback when one lady told me that when I sang at Easter her friend with mental health problems had felt a strong sense of healing and peace. It was also helpful that in my new parish there was a good little ‘worship band’ who
played at Mass, so that I only needed to improvise around piano chords, which made it easier to focus on the heart of worship. Then I was asked to lead worship during a five week Holy Spirit course. I would never have said yes if it hadn’t been for the Called and Gifted process. I was so nervous that I prayed much, much more than usual! The feedback was amazing. One of the people on the course asked if I would lead worship at a healing event in a different parish. I was even more nervous about this, but I agreed to it because of Called and Gifted. Someone told me afterwards, ‘you really communicate when you play’. This really showed me that my technical shortcomings were not an obstacle as the Holy Spirit was clearly at work, and not me.

This has given me confidence to lead worship at other events too.
As a result of Called & Gifted and the feedback I had received, I felt that if God was trying to use my music for His purposes, I needed to dedicate more time to it, so I decided to move to part-time work, partly to free up some time for this. I also wanted to do something to improve my technical skills, so that God might be able to do even more with me, so I am currently doing an online course for improvising chords during worship.

The Holy Spirit has also enabled me to lead worship even when I was suffering badly from depression. The feedback I was given during this time was very encouraging, even from people, who had come across some excellent worship leaders in the past.

One person said ‘as soon as you played the first few bars I found myself being drawn into worship’. It is astonishing and so humbling to begin to see how God seems to be taking my limited skills and using them so powerfully for His purposes. I am blessed indeed to have this charism.

Postscript 6 years on: Recognising a gift-mix of charisms at play, to understand better my mission field :

Over time, I’ve found that often several different charisms seem to be called forth to work together in things that I am doing, especially evangelism, pastoring and teaching as well as my music.  I seem drawn especially towards two mission fields, which often overlap: helping existing church going Catholics to go deeper in their relationship with God; and drawing those on the fringes of the Catholic Church (such as people who are baptised but not really practising, or those who have some kind of bridge of trust in place with the Catholic Church) into recognising at least the possibility of a relationship with God.

Two examples, where all four charisms come into play in an integrated way:

  1. Worship evenings (both live and online): These bring people at all stages in their faith journey together in an informal and relaxed setting, giving the opportunity to explore their relationship with God through music, song, scripture, teaching, shared prayer, silence and reflection activities.  The pastoring element became particularly important when we went online during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.
  2. Alpha: Here the evangelism focus is clear, even for people who are already church-going Catholics, and the small groups give a real opportunity for pastoring and, to an extent, teaching, whilst I always ensure that music and singing are introduced in an accessible way from an early stage as part of the whole Alpha experience.

The most recent development for me with this charism is that as I’ve explored the Psalms much more, I have found the Spirit forming new songs in my head based on psalm words, and I am currently working to craft these into existence.

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