Fifty years ago, I was taught by my music teacher Mr. Lister, that in music theory, a motif is a sequence of notes that keeps repeating. It’s what gives a piece of music its character and helps to identify it. Probably one of the most recognizable motifs in all of music is the repeated four-note sequence at the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: da-da-da-da! Even a musical novice can recognise how much drama those four notes convey. In fact, Beethoven himself called them “fate knocking at the door.”
There are motifs in the Book of Revelation, and one of them is worship. In today’s reading, the saints in heaven are singing a song similar to the one that Moses sang after God had delivered the Hebrews from slavery. They praise God because Christ has delivered them from the sin of the world. The saints give us a picture of what heaven will look like: an unending symphony of praise to God and his glory.
We, too, are called to praise and worship God, because it’s something that will help us on our journey to heaven. Worship takes us out of the here and now and helps lift us up into God’s presence. We can worship God whether things are going well or terribly, because the point of worship and praise isn’t about how our life is going, but about how wonderful God is.
We don’t need a reason to praise God. Or more precisely, he is the only reason we need. We can praise God for his power, his wisdom, and his mercy. We can glorify him for his love, his justice, and his kindness. And having the motif of praise running through our lives keeps us focused on what life is all about—knowing, loving, and serving God.
Beethoven’s motif in his Fifth Symphony illustrates “fate knocking at the door.” Our motif of praise is one way that we can knock on heaven’s door.