I came across this story from Chuck Swindoll:
During Thomas Jefferson’s presidency he and a group of travelers were crossing a river that had overflowed its banks. Each man crossed on horseback fighting for his life. A lone traveler watched the group traverse the treacherous river and then asked President Jefferson to take him across. The president agreed without hesitation, the man climbed on, and the two made it safely to the other side of the river where somebody asked him: “Why did you select the President to ask this favor?” The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the President of the United States who had carried him safely across. “All I know,” he said, “is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No’ and on some of them was the answer ‘Yes.’ His was a ‘Yes’ face.”
Do you have a ‘yes face’? During these pandemic days, it’s difficult to read anyone’s face because of masks that are intended to reduce the spread of Covid19. I’ve read that 85-95% of communication is accomplished by observing facial expressions. That’s probably why emails and texts can get us into such hot water. The mere words alone may not convey the real message.
“Facial expressions comprise a considerable amount of nonverbal communication. With our 80 facial muscles we can create more than 7,000 facial expressions.”  I’m not sure how many of these muscles are hidden by face coverings, but it’s probably fair to conclude a large fraction of our expressions are ‘masked.’
Depending on the shape of a person’s eyes, presence of eye glasses, hair style and length, it can be nearly impossible to determine if they are scowling, or smiling…or sleeping. Some people have very expressive eyes, and it’s a little easier to read happy or positive expressions. We can almost see happy, pleasant expression under the masks for these two friends. They show it is possible to smile with your eyes alone.
Others, not so much. Consider the choir shown below. Even though most of these singers have their hair pulled back, it’s still very difficult to read their facial expressions. Look at each singer and try to determine what they’re feeling or communicating. It’s a bit difficult. Granted, they’re singing Bach (about weary bodies), so they probably don’t have excessive expression even without masks. Watch the entire performance & facial expressions at The sound is quite nice.
Consider a typical song by the CBU Choir. How different might they look with masks? Which of these groups seem to have a ‘yes face’? I believe that even if CBU wore masks, they would still be pretty effective. Listen here.
Even when I’m around coworkers at work who are all wearing masks, I am not positive who’s who as I walk down the hallways. I’m uncertain as to their identity, and I cannot tell what they’re thinking. To be honest, I’m often so uncomfortable that I find myself purposely avoiding eye contact.
My sister-in-law leads the music at her church in Virginia where everyone in the congregation is required to wear masks for the past several weeks. Although she’s served at the church for several decades, she commented that it’s very difficult to know who’s there and what they are thinking as they participate in the congregational singing.
Masks seem to create ‘social distance’ as much as physical separation.
During the past 21 years of the East Valley Chorale’s existence, we’ve consistently worked to improve our effectiveness and ability to communicate with audiences. Many of you who’ve attended a concert when you were unable to sing, commented on the importance and impact of good facial expression. Accurate pitches, rhythms, and pronunciation, and moving our mouths in perfect synchronization are all important aspects of effective singing. But there is more. Our faces are telling part of the story too.
The first verse of Yes and Amen says,
There is a Truth that has stood through the ages,
a Hope that is steadfast and sure.
There is a Promise precious and sacred,
and it shall forever endure.
How do we communicate these lyrics? How can we make an audience understand that our Hope is really steadfast and sure? Can we remind/convince them that the Promise shall forever endure?
It’s similar to the way we talk to our children or grandchildren; more than just words. There’s an aspect of excitement and enthusiasm.
What about the chorus?
When we pray His Word by faith,
God’s answer will ever be:
Yes and Amen! Yes and Amen!
His promises are Yes and Amen!
These are somewhat unintuitive lyrics. The song appears to be saying that the answer to every prayer and request will be ‘Yes.’ This may set us up for disappointment. Or it may communicate that if God doesn’t answer your prayer, you don’t have enough faith.
The words are based on 1 Corinthians 1:19-20
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed among you by me and Silvanus and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in Him it has always been “Yes.” For all the promises of God are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him, our “Amen” is spoken to the glory of God.
Jesus doesn’t just give an answer, He is the Answer.
Can we convince the audience that Jesus is the Yes and Amen without having a ‘yes face’? It’s possible, but may be difficult.
At some point, the East Valley Chorale will reconvene. When that happens, I hope that each of us will strive to rehearse and perform with a ‘yes’ face, and avoid a ‘mask face’ (even when you’re not wearing a physical mask).
Jesus is our Yes and Amen.
A rehearsal version of Yes and Amen. (It’s interesting to note that out of our top 20 most viewed videos on YouTube, four were recorded at a rehearsal in June 2017. During this rehearsal, we were working on facial expression, and the camera captured a lot of happy, excited faces. Thanks, Steve Marsh.)
Want to sing along with this recording from An Awesome Love?