2015-09-09 / Editorial

DISCOVERING THE HALLELUIAH CHORUS IN PAUL’S SYMPHONY FOR THE ROMANS [AND US]

Jim Shumard

I was listening to Handel’s Messiah (Yes every now and then I do something classy!) in my car and was struck by a Biblical insight related to choruses. I wonder how many of us remember the beginning of Handel’s Messiah or even 80% of it. Everyone is familiar with the Halleluiah Chorus though. This inspired me to call up Pat Terry who recently gave a concert at our church and I spoke with him about songwriting. Pat, who sang with The Pat Terry Group in the seventies and later became more of a songwriter, told me that most songwriters come up with a chorus and then create a song around it. Others just start writing about something until a chorus “appears” and then everything else that is written is connected to the chorus.

It is crucial when reading Scripture that we listen for the choruses in each book, for that will give us insight into the rest of the music/scripture. I fear that too often, preachers I hear on the public airways, preach on minor parts of the symphony as if they were the major chorus. We need to listen for the rhythm and energy of Paul as he writes so we can discover the various choruses in each of his letters. Too often we treat every single part of Paul’s letters either equally or because of our agendas and give too much importance to words of Paul that were nowhere near as important to him.

A key way to discover the Halleluiah Choruses in Paul are to pay attention to when you feel moved or inspired by what he is saying. I guarantee you people who saved his letters did not save them because they were inspired by his administrative, marital or moral advice. They saved them because of his passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I happen to believe that Paul’s Halleluiah Chorus in Romans is found in chapter 8 when he comes to a crescendo saying, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God!” with a chorus of lines following that statement. Look it up and sing along with him.

Everything he says leading up to chapter 8 should be related to and tied to this Halleluiah Chorus of Paul’s. When he speaks of saved by faith, saved by works, the righteousness of Christ, the fact that none of us are righteous he is anticipating declaring that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He goes through a long list of bad behaviors, not to lead us to perfection or to ostracize or condemn to Hell but to catch us in the trap that in fact each one of us has sinned and like Paul, we continue to do the things we should not do and do not do the things we should do.

So please do not read and interpret Scripture isolated from the rest of the story or to make a point or press your agenda. We need to be open to God’s agenda and even Paul’s agenda inspiring and transforming us.

For what it’s worth.

Dr. Jim+

P.S. I told Pat that he needed to be ready with his songwriting’s skills when I ask him to put Romans to music! We could entitle it, “Nothing!” I hear so many people condemning others, including other Christians to Hell. I can just hear Paul scolding us, “What is it about ‘nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus’ you don’t get?” “Get with the music y’all!”

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