And they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and they sang the song of the lamb, “Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty, righteous and true are your ways, O King of the nations.” Rev 15:3.
The sound of singing breaks into this scene completely unexpected. Rivers of blood anticipate even further plagues (Rev 14:19 - 15:2). It would seem like a time to ban music and rejoicing. But sometimes the most powerful singing occurs when nobody plans on it.
It was only an audition. That’s why there were no drums, no backup singers and no expectations. Sam Phillips had heard about a good-looking local boy who favored ballads, knew a few guitar chords, and was blessed with the ostentatiously original name of Elvis Presley. In his search for a new kind of sound, Phillips had run nearly every singer in Memphis through his Sun Records studio; on that summer evening, the day after the Fourth of July, 1954, the 19-year-old Elvis was merely the next in line.
Phillips asked two trusted session musicians, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, to provide backup. At 7 PM, after a few minutes of small talk and nervous laughter, Phillips arranged the trio in a circle. Then he asked Elvis what he wanted to play. There was more nervous laughter; Elvis knew only a few songs, and most of those he couldn’t play from start to finish. Somehow the group fumbled through Harbor Lights, which had been a 1950 hit song for Bing Crosby. From the control room Phillips piped up, “That’s pretty good,” although it wasn’t. Elvis sounded boring and mechanical. Phillips called for a break.
With the formalities suspended, Elvis picked up a guitar and started goofing around, playing an old blues song by Arthur (Big Boy) Crudup called That’s All Right. Except that Elvis was not singing the blues. He sounded almost euphoric, and the rhythm was all wrong– far too frenetic, almost wild. There were no drums, so Black was slapping his bass to keep time while Moore’s guitar leaped in and out of the melody line. Phillips knew immediately. He stuck his head out of the control room and told the threesome to pick a place to start and keep playing. Two nights later, That’s All Right was played on Memphis radio. Phillips had his new sound and the era of rock and roll had begun.
If Elvis Presley had not been recorded in an informal session, no one might ever have heard about him (I leave you to decide whether that would have been good or bad). But music is most powerful when it reflects the depth of a person’s unique experience. That’s the kind of song the redeemed will unexpectedly sing after the plagues, the spontaneous song of deep experience.