Acknowledgement. Resolution. Pursuance. Psalm. These are the four musical suites of the classic recording “A Love Supreme” written by legendary jazz master and saxophonist, John Coltrane, in Huntington, New York in 1964.
Within the album’s liner notes, Coltrane provided the underlying purpose for the composition: “This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say ‘THANK YOU GOD’ through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strengthen all men in every good endeavor.”
The composition is a living statement of praise which encapsulates the depth of the personal relationship between creation and the Creator in its entirety, but also serves as a blueprint for the creative process and pursuit of the artist. The key in achieving significance and effectiveness, as an artist, lies in the fulfillment of each of the aforementioned musical suites, or processes, with every respective audience. In acknowledging and fulfilling the need for entertainment through the illumination, beautification and unification of humanity and resolving yourself to the development and nurturing of your creative gift, you become a gateway for the artistic intelligence of the Creator to be expressed—a light that serves to buoy the burdened and bring clarity and cohesion to chaotic environments.
One of the best illustrations in scripture of these steps is the story of the healing of an unnamed man at the pool of Bethesda. He had been sick for thirty-eight years and had been lying among a large crowd of sick, blind, lame and paralyzed on the five porches at the pool—all of whom had hopes of being healed by the waters, which were occasionally visited by an angel and stirred, releasing healing properties, but only at a certain time.
Christ was on his way to attend a religious festival in Jerusalem and he spotted the man lying near the pool and although he already knew the man’s diagnosis and that he was immobile, Christ acknowledged the man, to initiate dialogue, asking him if he wanted to be made well—which in turn, allowed the man an opportunity and feeling of being heard. The man, not knowing who Christ was, explained his dilemma: that he did not have anyone available to carry him to the pool, when the water was stirred, and that every time he had attempted to get in, someone was always able to get there first ahead of him. Christ spoke a resolution to him: “Get up, pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately, the man was healed upon receiving affirmation of his desire and decision to walk and he pursued it in action. He obeyed Christ and picked up his mat and started walking.
Every creative act has this power, through the intention of the creator. As an artist, when you acknowledge the needs of those around you through your gift, and provide a firming of their resolution to be well and to live in empowerment, while encouraging the pursuance of positive action, you ultimately manifest the result of a perfect song or psalm. The word psalm is derived from Greek/Latin and translates to the verb “pluck”—which further connects the word's origin to the author of the biblical psalms, King David, whose primary instrument was the harp, with which he composed his songs of praise—as Coltrane did with the saxophone.
At a basic level, praise to the Creator is demonstrated by walking in obedience and integrity to your gift and calling, whether your gift lies in music, acting, writing, fine arts or the art of makeup, fashion— or even accounting. The first step of praise is in the simple act of doing. Real praise is the act of performing and showing up to serve in the bastion of millions of likes and follows or playing to near empty rooms—it involves an active participation in perpetuating the artistic intelligence of the Creator in your acknowledgment of the investment of His gifts in your life.
Per John Coltrane: “ELATION—ELEGANCE—EXALTATION.” Walk in praise.