All summers are not alike—it depends upon how they are spent. For years it has been the custom of our colleges to make use of school musicians in teaching through the summer session. This plan locked the musical talent within the four studio walls, and drew out what little coloring was left in already pale cheeks. The teaching went not only round the clock but round the yearly cycle too. All this labor and talent was concentrated in one small spot—not without its benefits—but meager compared to the broad possibilities in another field of usefulness.
This past summer shines in my experience like a diamond in a lump of coal. Blessing it was that came in the invitation to connect with the field school of evangelism in Asheville, North Carolina, to care for the musical phase.
What a difference there is in singing a gospel message to souls hungry for truth, and performing for well-fed people who are weighing carefully all the artistic points or the absence of them ! If you have never looked into the upturned, honest faces of those who have come for a clearer understanding of the hope held out to sincere seekers for truth, and watched countenances change as the music and its message struck deep into the pool of their emotions, then you have yet to experience something which far exceeds in personal satisfaction anything you have known.
We musicians would do well if we would emphasize the importance of music in the message, as well as the message in the music. Yes, we would enlarge our contribution to the spread of the third angel's message if we would acquire the habit of thinking of our music ideals and goals in terms of evangelism, then leave the studio behind, step into the shoes of a singing evangelist, and feel the heartbeat of warm, responsive evangelistic joy. It will color the studio activity of the year to follow; it will tie us to the throbbing missionary work that made and keeps us a people ; it will brighten and enlighten our vision of the real usefulness of music.
The field is waiting for us to awaken, and those in charge will be eager to give us our opportunity to show a better reason for teaching music than we as yet have been able to offer. Music was intended to serve a holy purpose. Let us allow the aesthetic to rest for one summer, get down to practical things, and view firsthand the actual working of this peculiar power God has given us.
But let us not slip back into the same old "artistic" rut the next summer. See that each summer finds us connected with an effort somewhere. Many of us may need to start in a small effort but let it be service—small or great—until we become enthusiastic about it. And if our hearts are right, it will not take long for us to catch the spirit of a beautiful, forceful, truth-filled message.
God needs musicians outside the studio as much as He needs them in the classroom. Let us give a fine, sensible balance to both, but we should not forget our responsibility to the cause we have espoused. Our work is but half done when we have taught our music students.
Ours is a broader ideal than that of worldly musicians. If we stop with a reasonable attainment of his standards, either for ourselves or 'for our students, we have reached only the first station on our artistic trip. It is time we seriously examined our premises, and sounded the depths of our measure of service. Who is the musician who is too great to sing gospel songs, or sit at an upright piano to play for a song service ? Where is the man who considers himself too "high-class" to indulge in an evangelistic - effort? These may seem like biting words. But I think our music situation needs plain talk, for truly we are not meeting our duty or measuring up to our responsibilities. God open our eyes to our present opportunities.