Music soothes our souls, lightens our hearts
Remember hymn books? Do you remember all the words to all the verses of “What A Friend We Have In Jesus?” Can you close your eyes and see the “two pager” hymns like “Wonderful Grace Of Jesus?” Without looking at the page numbers of your favorite hymn book, I feel pretty certain that “When We All Get To Heaven” is no more than four pages away from “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.” (I’ll wait while you fetch your hymnal to check.)
In my family, when the church bought new hymn books, we always ordered a copy for us to have at home. While we weren’t a family of great singers, we all loved music. But we could hardly ever agree on which hymn to sing. My grandmother sang “I’ve Got A Mansion.” I sang “I’ve Got Peace Like A River.” Dad would strum away on his guitar to his enthusiastic and slightly off key version of “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms.” I strummed and sang louder (and more off key) to “Learning To Lean.” When my uncle belted out “To God Be The Glory,” I belted out “My Tribute.” We’d roll our eyes and shake our heads in disbelief at the choices of each generation. I think the only song everyone in my family agreed on was “I’ll Fly Away.” Who doesn’t like that song, anyway?
Then came the songs of the Jesus Movement, the pioneer movement of a different kind of church music. Dad even liked some of them. “Pass It On” was one of his favorites. (We even played that song at his funeral.) I’ve always wondered, though, if Dad would have drawn the line when Larry Norman musically asked, “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?” Would he have sung along to Keith Green’s, “Oh, Lord, You’re Beautiful?” Would Dad have enjoyed Scott Wesley Brown singing, “Lord, Please Don’t Send Me to Africa?” (Knowing Dad, he would have secretly agreed with Larry Norman, asked Keith Green to get a haircut, and laughed at Scott Wesley Brown.)
Music. It soothes our souls, lightens the burdens of our hearts. Music can make us laugh and make us cry. Music reminds us of God’s love for us, recalls His promises to us, and puts melodies to our prayers.
Music is a one of God’s gifts to us, and it’s one of the ways we worship God. Music was important in Israel’s worship, and in the early church, the singing of psalms and spiritual songs was a back bone of their worship. From John’s descriptions in Revelation, it is clear that heaven is filled with songs of praise and honor and glory to God.
What is the music you like the most? Do you agree/disagree with the musical choices of your church so much that you do more complaining than singing? Have you stopped going to church because they no longer sing the kind of music you like? Does your adherence to your musical “choices” mean that you worship the songs you sing more than the God to whom you sing?
Music. I wonder…is it about God or is it about us?
(Note: I first wrote this column (for another newspaper) way back in July 2010. I think it’s still relevant today, don’t you?)