December 22, 2021

Timpani in Heaven

I understand why harps, lyres and trumpets are associated with angels. The notes of harps and lyres dreamily float. Trumpets blast, demanding attention to God’s impending Words and action. What I do not understand, however, is why timpani are not included in the realm of angelic orchestrations.

I might never have thought of this were it not for the wonderful timpani that a parishioner at my church donated to our music ministry. The kettles’ full, deep sound on Christmas Eve 2019 rolled through the nave, gathering our scattered thoughts and moving us to our feet in anticipation. O come, all ye faithful! Hark! The angels have good news!

There just had to be timpani that first Christmas night…

Goosebumps rose on the shepherds’ skin with the first rumblings. The sound was too musical to be thunder, yet frantically they searched the sky looking for lightning and an unexpected storm. Then suddenly, more light then they had ever experienced, in a sky more glorious than the last thousand lightning flashes. Angels materialized in the dazzling display, singing a message from God punctuated with the rolling cadence of the timpani –

O come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels!

“Yes!” the shepherds answered, calling to each other -

O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord!

There just had to be timpani there. And there must be timpani in heaven. I have heard their prelude, made possible by someone’s generosity and love.