The power of music was on full display from May 25 to June 3 as the Cedarville University Chamber Orchestra traveled to Rome and Perugia, Italy, on a Global Outreach missions trip. Eighteen orchestra members, with director Prof. Carlos Elias, traveled over ten days in Rome and Perugia, Italy. These ten days passed quickly, but the impact of this missions trip remains.
Sharing the Gospel
The Orchestra shared the good news of Christ through musical endeavors. We performed six concerts over the length of the trip in venues ranging from evangelical churches to Perugia’s Sala dei Notari (City Hall). In each of these concerts, we performed a few classical pieces followed by sacred musical selections. Some of my favorite hymn arrangements we played were Be Still My Soul, arranged by rising senior Timothy P. Barnes; And Can It Be, arranged by Cedarville alumnus Timothy F. Parsons; and O Sacred Head Now Wounded, arranged by Cedarville music professor Dr. Austin K. Jaquith. In between the sacred pieces, members of the orchestra shared testimonies of how they have seen God at work in their lives with the audience. The hymn lyrics were also shared so the audience could hear how meaningful the pieces were that we were performing. It was evident that God made no mistake when creating an art as complex as music. The sacred hymn adaptations that the orchestra performed touched upon the power and magnitude of the Almighty God.
Many of the orchestra members, including me, had a favorite memory of a lively church body that we encountered at our first concert in Rome. This congregation joined with the performance by singing In Christ Alone in the Italian language. Sacred music that is played in the United States is of the same familiarity in a country such as Italy. Many members of the orchestra stated this as one of the most special memories from the trip. It was clear that the Spirit of God was in that place, and, clearly articulated by cellist Kyra Becker, “It was a beautiful glimpse into what it will be like when every tongue and every nation is confessing the same Jesus as Lord!”
Prior to the trip, I was unsure of how a missions trip that was focused on musical performance could truly share the Gospel effectively. Would the audiences really grasp what our message was? Would we have any meaningful conversations? After reflecting on the trip as a whole, I came to the conclusion that music has power. God made no mistake in creating an art form that could express not only beautiful colors and timbres, but also God’s saving grace. The hymns we played were not just notes on a page, but brush strokes of the Almighty God’s creation. Our audiences felt our connection to our music, and therefore saw the significance of this sacred music.
In our travels, we only ran upon one major conflict. After our third concert, which was held in a government venue, we were told that we were not allowed to make our testimonies during our remaining concerts personal. We were not able to share what God has specifically done in our lives or put our own stamp on our presentations. This was disappointing for a few of us, as we were unable to give our personal testimonies during the trip at our concerts. However, the team came up with a solution. We were able to read the lyrics of the hymn we were introducing and share any relevant information on the composer. This allowed us to still share biblical truths, but in an alternative way. We still performed all of our sacred music and made it clear to our audiences what the music was conveying thematically.
God’s Continued Faithfulness
Even if we ran into a few obstacles along the way, the orchestra’s trip to Italy made it clear to its members that God is continually faithful. Lamentations 3:22-23 is a passage that has come to mind after this trip:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Although the orchestra’s visit to Italy has concluded, the impact of the trip allowed for immense spiritual growth among members. When asked of their favorite memories over the ten days, many of the members responded that speaking with audience members after the concert was uplifting and joyful. Others stated that the trip was an excellent opportunity for the members to become closer to one another spiritually as well. The Chamber Orchestra was incredibly blessed to travel on a missions trip such as this one and has seen God’s hand at work through His gift of music. Soli Deo Gloria!
Major & Year: Music Education, class of 2024
Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 8:38-39
Favorite Class at CU: Music History II