A grace note is a music notation, (usually printed smaller as above, to indicate that it is melodically and harmonically non-essential). Chopin was addicted to them.
And I regard myself as something of an expert here, having once played on the very piano on which Chopin learnt,not far from Warsaw, in Poland.
(It was Chopsticks, but I’m sure the principle applies).
Anyway, Chopin wrote many a long series of extra notes – grace notes- that the individual performer had to interpret for himself. Isn’t that amazing? He left it to a subjective feel. Here’s the main melody (he seemed to say), and sort the rest of it out for yourself!
A lot of this way of playing comes up in bagpipe music (obviously, because the chanter is not tongued but supplied by a continuous air source from the bag, and so grace notes are sometimes the only way to differentiate between notes). It’s there too in Indian Classical music, especially when playing Sitar, to which there is all kinds of technical jargon attached which loosely translates as “Do it by feel.”
It’s like a parable for how to do life. There are general broad principles to follow, like the Ten Commandments, but the real fun comes in the grace notes, the extra bits that you learn to play by feel.
But what is grace? How does the Bible explain it?
The Greek and Hebrew words behind this term are helpful. One prominent Old Testament word describing God’s grace is chesed. This word speaks of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. It also denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation.
Imagine living with a vibrant sense of chesed informing everything that you do. You still have to pay your bills and unblock the toilet and do the dishes and grumble about your neighbour’s dog… but all the time there’s a secret harmonic playing -a magical counterpoint. Nothing is ever mundane.
Someone has turned the water into wine.
The New Testament word is Charis. In modern Greek it’s the word for birthday present! Imagine that. Something you just don’t deserve at all, but which is rather nice and makes you smile inside.
In the New Testament, grace means God’s love in action towards people who merited the very opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save people who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into heaven. ‘(God) has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Grace is often defined as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation. As someone said to me: “It’s not only sending cake to the prisoners, but supplying a file inside.”
Grace is the way out.
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22-24).
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17).
These verses constitute just a little of the wide range of exploring that goes on in the New Testament as the first generation of believers responded to the grace of God in Jesus. The verses focus on Jesus, because he is the grace-giver, but that last verse shows how deeply the effect is felt in our lives. We “reign in life” because of Jesus!
That doesn’t mean four-star luxury living on “flowery beds of ease.” It means that in everything you do there is a rich awareness of God. There are grace-notes accompanying the essential melody of your living.
And that makes all the difference.
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity;
O Thou Spirit divine, May I truly be Thine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.