The Path of Life: “Fanfare!”

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Worship: Summoned!



As a band and orchestra conductor and arranger, I have to admit I love fanfares. (As a clarinet player I must confess I envy the role my brass-playing friends get to play in these short and to-the-point compositions.) Usually all the rest of us get to do is play trills and chord tones.

A fanfare is a short, loud, brassy piece of music designed to get the attention of people who are not listening. Fanfares are used to call people to attention to something about to happen or to someone who is about to make an entrance.

Most people know there is song that must be played when the President of the United States enters a room, “Hail to the Chief.” How many also know the introduction to this piece is a fanfare called “Ruffles and Flourishes?” The fanfare announces the approach so that people can stand for the song.

The fanfare is not a modern invention. It is an ancient practice for brass instruments and their ancient forerunners, ram’s horns, to be used to call people together for important information. It is easy to see how the development of instruments and the use of instrumental music progresses through the Old Testament. By the time of Jesus brass instruments which were capable of a more controlled sound were in common use in worship. Famously, Psalm 150, which might be called the last word on worship from the Old Covenant, commands that the entire orchestra be employed in the praise of God.

I realize this may be of little interest to non-musicians so let me get to the spiritual point. As we rush through life randomly selecting what to listen to and what to ignore, we need to listen for the fanfares God sends our way.

It may be a sunset or a sunrise, or a cloud formation, or a rainbow. It may be the fragment of a song from long ago or a phrase someone uses that sounds like someone we love and miss. It may be the thunder that announces the approaching storm. It may the sound of the surf before we get to the beach. It could be our loved one’s car turning into the driveway.

On the Lord’s Day it is the Call to Worship.

There are so many beautiful, promising fanfares in life announcing so many important events and the entrance of so many important people.

Soon a certain trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ will rise first and we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them and so shall we ever be with the Lord!

That is a fanfare and an entrance I don’t want to miss!


Psalm 33:1-3
Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous; it is good for the just to sing praises. Praise the Lord with the harp; play to him upon the psaltery and lyre. Sing for him a new song; sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.

Exodus 19:18-20 NIV
Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

2 Chronicles 5:12-14 NIV
All the Levites who were musicians …stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.

Psalm 150 NIV
Praise the LORD .Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 NIV
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Song of the Fanfare!
In the Twinkling of an Eye
Words: Fanny J. Crosby; Music: William J. Kirkpatrick

1. When the trump of the great arch angel its mighty tones shall sound,
And the end of the age proclaiming, Shall pierce the depths profound;
When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, to take His saints on high,
What a shouting in the skies from the multitudes shall rise,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

Changed in the twinkling of an eye.
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.
The trumpet shall sound, the dead shall be raised.
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.

2. When He comes in the clouds descending, and those who loved Him here,
From their graves shall awake and praise Him with joy and not with fear;
When the body and the soul are united, and clothed no more to die,
What a shouting there will be when each other’s face we see,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.


3. O the seed that was sown in weakness shall then be raised in power,
And the songs of the blood-bought millions shall hail that blissful hour;
When we gather safely home in the morning and night’s dark shadows fly,
What a shouting on that shore when we meet to part no more,
Changed in the twinkling of an eye.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

The Path of Life: "Fanfare!"

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