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When a piccolo just won’t do

Like many preachers, I am a Pastor too,with all that entails. Tomorrow I shall conduct the funeral for an elderly ‘saint’ who has served God and man throughout his long life.  On such an occasion I long for all the depth and dignity of the mighty bassoon  in my preaching, but feel I end up instead sounding like the thin notes of the piccolo. Try as I might, I so often feel that my words, with their attempt to pay tribute, end up detracting from the dignity of the occasion rather than adding to it.

There has been much written already in this Biblefresh year about the beauty, poetry and dignity of the King James’ Bible. Christian theologians and newspaper columnists have waxed lyrical about its texture and the cadences of its poetry and prose.  I believe that we can overstate all this. For some, the King James version is, quite simply, alien. Its language pushes them away rather than drawing them in. When we look for dignity in worship, it is to be found in God’s words per se, rather than in any particular translation of them. Tomorrow I shall use a more modern translation, simply because it is the one most familiar to the congregation.

Modern translation or not, I have little doubt that there will be far more dignity and depth to the words of scripture than there are to any of mine. I am, after all, a servant of the word and not its master. Maybe its ok to be a piccolo to the Bible’s bassoon – simply adding a few accent notes to accentuate the beauty of what is there already. If anyone can find a duet by bassoon and piccolo, I would love to hear it.

In the meantime I  leave you, as I shall leave the congregation tomorrow, with Rutter’s ‘The Lord bless you and keep you’ … because it’s beautiful.

Richard Littledale

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