Thursday, September 17, 2009

Music: Principle (1)

I asked last time: " What are the prime principles regarding music in worship and how we do put them into practice?" So what is the first principle?

1) Music is God's great gift to humankind
Let's state the obvious. Music is God's great gift. He built musicality into creation so that words have even more power through voices and instruments! His story with us in Scripture is full of music. "The morning stars sang together" to herald creation (Job 38:7); Jubal is "the father of who play the harp and the flute" (Gen 4:21); Moses, with Miriam, lead singing at exodus (Exodus 15). David's harp refreshes King Saul (1 Sam 16:32), and King David organizes temple worship (1 Chron 15:16). The psalms are a hymn-book, packed with lyrics from praise to lament, with choirs and instruments of every kind gloriously joining in (Ps 150:3-6). Music accompanies the beginning of Christ's story in Mary's magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), and over the Bethlehem fields (Luke 2:14,15 ), and near the end (Matthew 26:30). The early church is exhorted to make melody (Eph 5:19); Paul and Silas sing in prison (Acts 16:25), and multitudes fill the heavens (Revelation 4: 8-11).

Sadly, a few are tone-deaf (pastoral sensitivity is needed), but the great majority of us can testify that music inspires, heals and renews. Popular science suggests that music releases endorphins as pleasurable chemical brain reactions, and few doubt profound links between music and emotions. Indeed the Institute of Brain and Music Sciences (in Mass.) finds vital correlations between music and neurological conditions. Digital communication offers latest confirmation in the popularity of personal playlists. Undeniably, music is an essential part of our lives. Take away music, and life becomes immeasurably poorer.

Apparently Plato the philosopher said near the end of his life that he wished he could have written songs for people because he saw that knowledge is passed on both intellectually and emotionally, by consensus as people sing together. Music is God's powerful creation gift capable of expressing immense emotion and conviction.

All of God's gifts can be abused, and music is no exception. But let's begin with thanks for God's gift of music. Hopefully you agree? Maybe you have other Scripture choices about music? Please let me know.

1 comment:

AndrewG said...

Hi Michael. I love the quote from Bach - "The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul" I think he got as close as anyone on this earth will.