Kazoo, God Bless You!

An Instrument of Praise

"I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” I Corinthians 14:15

To this verse I might add, "And I will also sing with my kazoo.” Picture if you will, the scene as it was captured in this actual photograph. It was a chilly night in March of 1972. Our high school church choir was spending Spring Break on a river ministry project just across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park, and in the evenings we put on concerts for a few hearty campers in the park who were kind enough to sit on log benches and listen to us. Now it's important to note here that we weren't just any high school church choir; we were an excellent one! Our director would accept nothing less than perfection, and he rehearsed us for hours every week until we knew each note of our harmonious parts not just from memory, but by heart. We could sing those songs in our sleep, as well as through sleet and hail and dark of night, or, as in the case on this particular night, through howling winds.

I don't know what it is about the state of Texas, but it does everything BIG, and at the top of that list is the weather. Gale force winds sufficient to uproot small trees were nothing out of the ordinary, which I suppose is why we never considered cancelling our concert. That there was anyone in the audience at all is further testimony to the fact that we were really good (either that or it simply proves that folks will do anything to get out of a 4 X 6 tent filled with three small children, two dozen damp, sandy towels and a flashlight with dead batteries.) Nevertheless there we were, singing our hearts out to an appreciative little crowd when suddenly in mid-song a huge gust of wind knocked out the power to our microphones as well as (and this is an important detail in my story) to the electronic keyboard used to accompany our songs.

In true pioneer spirit our director soldiered on and we never missed a beat. In fact, so imbued were we with courageous bravado, that we sang on in pure a capella with an exuberance never before experienced back home in the choir room. But as the song continued forth, a daunting fact slowly began to occur to us. We were approaching an important point in the arrangement where an interlude was to be performed on the keyboard – the very keyboard that had just been rendered as silent as a tombstone.

We looked to the director for a head's up clue, but got nothing. Did he not know what was coming? Did he expect us to just stand there awkwardly counting out the measures in our heads like in the last verse of "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt?” How could we bear such humiliation?

There were just a few bars left before the dreaded moment would be upon us. In an instant, I knew what I had to do. I reached into the pocket of my high school Drama letter jacket (yes, that's right, I lettered in Drama. Deal with it.) And I pulled out my trusty kazoo. Why I happened to be toting a kazoo at that exact moment in time is a mystery even to me. Call it a God thing. Anyway, all I can say is that as seamlessly as if the composer had intended this specific instrumental accompaniment all along, I kazooed the entire solo tune to the delight of both choir and audience alike. All right, admittedly you can see in the photo a few snickers on the faces of my fellow singers (that's my future hubby next to me in the tan leather coat) but I am confident even they recognized the extent of my heroism. Without a doubt, I had saved the day and in terms of sheer raw courage, this was my finest hour.

But looking back on it now, I wonder – did I do it to the glory of God or for the glory of myself? Even after all these years I know good and well what my true motive was and I'm not particularly proud of it. I was seeking applause and I got it. I was after accolades and they came pouring in. I craved a pat on the back and it was received. The fact that I was accompanying a song of genuine praise to the Lord seems like an oh-by-the-way.

God was worthy of worship then, and He is worthy of worship now. So if it's all the same to you, I'd like to take a moment right now to make it up to Him by singing a song of genuine praise. I will sing with my spirit; I will also sing with my mind. But this time I will NOT sing with my kazoo.

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