I had already proven to many an accusatory fellow chorister that my voice was not the one dragging us flat when I recorded myself alone in an acoustically friendly room on a cassette recorder. Playback was not kind. Either the batteries were low, or my voice was less impeccable than my arguments defending it.

Jeremiah: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Starting that day, I learned 2 methods for staying on key. First, I aim sharp whenever an interval moves up. It sounds wrong to my ear, but keeps me from going flat, and on a good day keeps me true. Sometimes it feels a little off—maybe a little sharp—to love an enemy, forgive an intransigent, thank an ingrate. But it is true to Jesus’ key.

Second, I found pitch-safety in groups, which can keep key remarkably well. But it only helps if I listen more than lead. Paul describes believers “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” before prescribing them “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

May the tone of our mutual faith this week be the one Jesus set and others need to hear.