Sabbath and the SDA Musician
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What happens when Sabbath observance, one of the most distinctive beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist church, clashes with the demands of music performances on weekends, a preferred and popular time for concerts? Is it possible to reconcile the divine command to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" with the professional demand to be a responsible member or conductor of a group that must play in those prime-time hours?
The convictions and thoughts of successful and talented Adventist musicians who are succeeding on the "outside" and have written about the issue in IAMA's publications are presented below. Along with the original writings, some of the writers present revisions and more recent insights on this issue.
One of IAMA's goals is to provide a forum in which critical issues related to being an Adventist musician can be discussed for the benefit of all. We hope the following are helpful to those who are struggling with the issue of public performance during Sabbath hours. And if you want to join the discussion about this topic, share your thinking as the dialogue continues by sending your thoughts to IAMA.
The Sabbath: A Witness for God (1985)
Lyndon Johnston Taylor
Although there are several factors involved in choosing appropriate musical activities, I believe that it's most important to consider what is in the heart of the musician. Is the real motive to praise God or to further one's own career? This is not to justify rationalizing that since God gives musical talent to certain individuals, they should do everything necessary to further their careers in order to be "bright lights" for Him. On the other hand, there is no reason for following a set of man-made rules for Sabbath keeping which God never intended for us.
The Sabbath: A Witness for God (1994)
Lyndon Johnston Taylor
Is the Sabbath a religious holy day to be shared only with like believers, or is it a spiritual holiday to be shared with the public? Is musical activity in a non-religious setting less appropriate for the Sabbath? Is it possible to minister to God's non-religious people worship or seek spiritual growth in a concert hall? Is the Sabbath a day limited to quiet contemplation or is it also a social recreational holy-day?
The Sabbath and Music Performance
For me there is absolutely no opportunity in the world, be it the Vienna Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, or any other orchestra that could entice me to compromise that time that was created for worship. I pass no judgments on people who view the issue another way. This is what works for me. I feel strongly that whatever a person's stance, it should be made on the basis of inner conviction, not because of a desire to please those around you or because it will advance your career.
Herbert Blomstedt and the Sabbath
Herbert Blomstedt's religious faith has been as firm a theme in his life as music - both are matters of inheritance as well as conviction. Yet, though he observes the Sabbath as of sundown Friday, he conducts concerts on Friday nights. In this apparent contradiction lies his musical Philosophy: "A concert for me is a holy moment. Music, for me, is much more than pleasure or structure or beauty. It is all this, but it is also much more. It is all that is most holy in human kind. It is creativeness. Martin Luther said that next to theology, music is God's greatest gift."
The Adventist Musician and Sabbath Performances
Anthony A. Pasquale
I feel that I have been blessed with gifts that I am obligated to share as long as I am not pushed into a position of sacrificing principles. This includes, for me, Sabbath concerts. I make a point of avoiding Sabbath scheduling, but if I am asked, then I try to decide using the guidelines given. I must tell you that one week I may do one thing, and a week later refuse to do something similar because I am uncomfortable with that performance.
Anthony A. Pasquale
There is a handful of people who are working as musicians and have remained Adventists. These people have had to make decisions which have taken them slightly left of center of mainstream Adventism. Such people must be prepared for some deep, soul-searching questions that only the individual can answer, and then must be prepared to live their lives in a manner for which typical Adventism has not prepared them.
Making a Joyful Noise on the Sabbath
Sometimes I wish Adventism had the centuries of tradition and rabbinical dialogue that the Jewish People have. The intellectual tussling of the rabbis, much of it codified by now, helps the Jewish people when the demands of the Law clash with the force of real life in an imperfect world. Adventists, however, don't have a Riverside or Berrien Springs Talmud.