Oct 26, 2005

Stop and Think

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

Luke 17:10

Giving God All the Glory

On March 27, 1808, Franz Joseph Haydn attended his last musical performance. The program featured his oratorio The Creation. He’s finished the massive work at age sixty-six, saying it had been composed to inspire “the adoration and worship of the Creator” and to put the listener “in a frame of mind where he is most susceptible to the kindness and omnipotence of the Creator.”

Haydn recalled, “Never was I so devout as when I composed The Creation. I knelt down each day to pray to God to give me strength for my work.” He told a friend, “When I was working on The Creation, I felt so impregnated with the Divine certainty that, before sitting down to the piano, I would quietly and confidently pray to God to grant me the talent that was needed to praise him worthily.”

At this March 1808 performance of his triumphant oratorio, the composer was determined that God would get all the glory for his work. As the music faded and the audience applauded enthusiastically, Haydn lifted his hands and said, “Not from me—from there, above, comes everything.”

Haydn always insisted that his talents were an unmerited gift from God—a gift that he should use to bless others. He told a group of musicians playing his Creation, “There are so few happy and contented people here below, sorrow and anxiety pursue them from everywhere; perhaps your work may, someday, become a spring from which the careworn may draw a few moments’ rest and refreshment.”

Haydn was well aware that he possessed talent at the genius level, but he always was quick to acknowledge the Author of this talent. Even his will begins: “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity,” and continues, “My soul I bequeath to its all-bountiful Creator.”

It is all too easy to take the credit for the work we have done and to forget the Creator who enabled us to do the work. Our talents, our character, our knowledge, even our health are gifts from God, and to Him alone be all the glory.

By Patrick Kavanaugh

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