There is little doubt that music moves people. There is something about the combination of lyric and rhythm, pitch and sound that connects to our innermost thoughts and feelings. Here are some thoughts about the effect of music:
“Music can change the world because it can change people.”
“My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.”
― Martin Luther
“Music... will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“A great song should lift your heart, warm the soul and make you feel good.”
― Colbie Caillat
I don’t really want to the question the idea of music’s power, but I want us to think about what it is that our music is persuading us of…or moving us towards. Let me explain. As we think about what we fill our hearts and minds with on a weekly and daily basis, what does our music applaud? Does the music we most often listen to speak highly of sex? How about sexual acts? How about sexual acts in the club with random hook-ups? How about the power of love? How about the pride of our nation? How about the life of luxury? How about the life of leisure? How about the city life? How about the country life? How about escaping your life? How about the violent life? How about the peaceful life? How about money? How about being unique and different? How about being angry? And the list goes and goes…
Does the music you listen to affect the way you engage the world—there is little doubt that it does…so, from a minister’s perspective let me say that our worship through music sets us on a particular trajectory, or in a particular frame of mind and heart. Now, I’m not trying to argue that love is evil or that we shouldn’t have some level of national pride…but I am trying to assert that music does have power and that power must be acknowledged and accepted…and perhaps even cautioned against!
The power of music is why it is an important part of our worship of God. And while you might be a hip hop, country, rap, alternative, pop, or classical fan; I hope and pray we are all listening to songs that praise God. David sings this in Psalm 59:
16 But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety when I am in distress.
17 O my Strength, to you I sing praises,
for you, O God, are my refuge,
the God who shows me unfailing love.
May the songs of our God always be in our hearts, in our minds, and upon our lips! And may the songs of other, lesser things diminish in comparison to our great God. In the words of a contemporary song:
How great is our God!
Sing with me,
How great is our God!
And all will see,
How great, how great is our God!
It's been a while since I have written on this blog. I am finishing my dissertation (if you know me well, you may not believe that statement) and have been focusing my efforts elsewhere. But, each fall semester I have the privilege of leading a group of students through the Old Testament. One of the bonus assignments in the class is the writing of a personal Psalm after the lecture on the book. Each student is to write a psalm, label it as a psalm of orientation, disorientation, or new-orientation. Each year, the sharing of personal feelings is intense in the class and I am amazed at the openness in the classroom. This year was no different. However, one of the students who did not share a psalm began to react about half way through the class and I noticed her crying most of the period.
I didn't really acknowledge her reaction, but a few hours after class I received an email from her. She said:
I simply could not read this today. It was so hard for me to be vulnerable in front of the class; I knew I would fall apart. I could not even keep the tears away WITHOUT reading it. So I left it at home and did not even attempt it.
I had no idea a simple exercise could have such an impact...imagine if we took the time to share personal psalms in our small groups or churches. Returning to the student, she attached her psalm to the email and it is below for you to read. It is a psalm of new orientation, one that laments the past, cries out to God for explanation but celebrates God's presence in the face of troubles:
Where were you, God, in all of these struggles?
This was just one of the psalms that students shared, imagine the depths of joy, hurt, and trust that people carry... just waiting to be asked...waiting to be prompted...or perhaps even ignoring it. So, write a psalm and meditate on the presence of God in your life. If you wrote a psalm, what would it say?
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.