A couple of weeks ago, our church installed our new Minister of Music and Worship. As part of his installation charge, I included the following reflection.
In his famous song, American Pie, Don McLean sings about "the day the music died." Have you ever thought about what life would be like if there ever came a day when music died?
Imagine what life would be without music …
Parents would have to rock their children to sleep without the sweet melody of a lullaby.
Television commercials would be dry as dust. It's the jingles that get to us. It's the jingles that stick in our memories. See if you can complete these jingles:
· “The best part of waking up is ….”
· What about this one: “My bologna has a first name it’s ….”
· Now this one: “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that ….”
· And you may even remember this much older jingle, "See the USA in your …." That's right, Chevrolet.
Those are dated, and you still remembered them, didn’t you? Without music television would be empty. No jingles in commercials. No theme songs for the shows.
And without music in life, no matter which radio station you tune in, all you could find would be talk radio. How could it officially ever be summer if you couldn’t drive down the road with your windows down and your radio blasting as you sing along to your favorite tunes?
Life without music would be strange indeed.
And imagine worship without music …
Well, worship might be shorter, or worse yet, we preachers would probably go longer.
In worship without music, way fewer people would be able to use their gifts in the church.
In worship without music, offertory times would be louder because there would be no music to cover up all the whispering and readjusting that goes on during that time.
And what about invitations: no music, no hymn, just a preacher standing up there staring at the congregation. The only plus side about the invitation, I guess, is that preachers would never lie to us again about, "We're only going to sing one more verse."
And in worship without music we would never have the hymns to carry with us out the doors of the sanctuary and into everyday life. Even though it’s been years ago, I still remember when Oral Hershiser won the World Series MVP for the Dodgers. He was asked by a reporter, “I see you moving your lips in the dugout when you’re teams at bat. You don’t appear to be talking to anyone and no one appears to be listening. So what are you doing?” Hershiser answered, “I’m singing hymns. They keep me calm and focused.” We all have our favorite hymns and choruses that encourage us so much as we go about our lives.
Worship without music would be sterile at best and dead at worst. I can't imagine worship without music, can you?
How about the Bible without music?
Did you know that music fills the Bible? If we were to take the music out, we'd have to get rid of the song of Moses, the song of Deborah, David's song, and pretty much the whole book of Psalms. Can you imagine the Bible without the Psalms? How would you ever find the middle?
And the NT would feel the pinch too. How about the angel's song and Elizabeth's song and Mary's song? How about Philippians 2:6-11 where Paul quotes the hymn about Jesus who though He was equal to God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped? You know that song, don't you? It ends with the chorus that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It's a great song. And Revelation has some great songs too. Take out the songs of Revelation and about all you have left are ten-headed beasts, scorpions and dragons and stuff.
It's just hard to imagine what it would be like to live in a world and a church that had no music.
Music is a gift of God.
It comes from the soul and lives in the memory. It touches our emotions in ways mere speaking never could. And music expresses our emotions too. Through music we can sing for joy or cry the blues. Through music we can express our fear or declare in faith an assurance that reaches down to the deepest part of the soul. Music is God's gift. God likes music—all kinds of music. God put music into nature: bird song, wind whistle, bass drum thunder, coyote moon song, rooster crow at dawn, percussion waterfalls, and so much more. God also put all kinds of music in the Bible and He put all kinds in our soul. God even joins in the singing: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zeph. 3:17). God is the Master Musician, the Singer of singers, the Voice of voices, the Composer of composers. We’re the Pips to God’s Gladys Knight, the Boston Pops to God’s Arthur Fiedler, the guitar to God’s Carlos Santana, the trumpet to God’s Louis Armstrong. That’s why the Bible and the human soul are full of music. God did this so we would learn how to set our faith to music, so we’d learn how to sing a song in the day and how to whistle in the dark. God did this so we could add rhythm to our lives, poetry to our prose, and help us march to the beat of the great drummer of the universe—Jesus Christ our Lord.
So "Sing to the Lord a new song … (Ps. 96:1). Make music in your heart to the Lord" (Eph. 5:19). You’re not singing solo, you know.