Music; March 28, 2018

Matthew 26:30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

To my recollection this is the only place where it says anything at all about Jesus making music in any form. As big as music has been in my life, I find myself really wanting to know what He sang! I can’t say I’ve ever encountered research into what it likely would have been, but I am sure there were traditional Passover songs that could be identified even today. I do know that the rest of the Bible mentions music and singing quite a bit. When Paul talked about worship services with the Corinthians he mentioned hymns, (1 Corinthians 14:26) and he famously told the Ephesians to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:19) and also told the Colossians something very similar. (Colossians 3:16) King David is probably the most famous singer/songwriter in the Bible, and Revelation speaks of singing in heaven. (Revelation 15:3) Music is obviously Scriptural! Psychologists are still studying how it has unique abilities to inspire and express all sorts of things in and through us. It is very powerful, which is why the devil dries so hard to corrupt it. Western music comes directly from Church music, with influences from various cultural streams, but some of what passes for music today would be hard to imagine in a church setting! There are certainly cultural and personal prejudices in that statement, because any musical genre can be used to express thanks and praise to God, or even a sincere heart-cry, but some lyrics are expressions of direct rebellion against God. What we listen to, and what we allow our children to listen to, impacts us and society as a whole far more than most people realize.

I was raised in a very musical family, with every member playing at least one instrument as well as singing. Some of my fondest memories of “family time” are of gathering around the piano with one of my parents playing as we sang hymns in 4-part harmony. I ended up with a Music minor in college, and my major assignment in the Army was as 1st chair clarinet in the 25th Division band. My wife had a similar background, singing in Gospel quartets and the like at various functions both with family members and with others. It’s not surprising that both our daughters gravitated to music in college and continue to be very musical. However, with all of that background, I am quite aware that music can be nothing more than an exercise in narcissism, if we lose sight on the One who gave it to us. I don’t mean at all that all music has to be “religious,” but I have seen and heard performances even of religious music that had essentially nothing to do with God. I like good jazz, for example, and I have heard performances of “The Lord’s Prayer” that were nothing more than the singer showing off their vocal abilities. The important thing isn’t the style, but the heart behind it. One project I still haven’t gotten around to is a rewrite of “My Way,” that Frank Sinatra made so famous. It is musically admirable, but the lyrics express exactly how the devil wants us to be: completely self-centered. I want to rewrite those lyrics to “Thy Way,” as a commitment to follow God rather than my flesh.

Father, thank You for music in all its forms. Help me make full use of it to lift people up and encourage them to follow You, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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