Faith-sharing question: What role (if any) does music play in your faith life? by Wade Anderson
As I have mentioned before, maybe too many times, I spend much of my day surrounded by music. On the bus on the way to work. While trying to crank out that last-minute to-do in my office. While on the treadmill at the Y. On the radio when taking one of the kiddos to their latest after-school activity. It so often fills my ears that I lose track of what I’m listening to, exactly.
And then, at other times, it completely takes control of me so that I can’t do anything else but listen. I would argue that a well-struck G-chord on an acoustic guitar is the most beautiful sound in the world. (And, similarly, the same chord on an out-of-tune guitar is the most awful sound ever.) Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s harmonies on “The Boxer.” Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar solo on “Little Wing.” Miles Davis’s trumpet on “Freddie Freeloader.” Sounds that are so amazing, so unbelievable, so… holy?
No offense to any of my current or former pastors and their always-intriguing sermons, but the times in my life when I have been most moved during worship have involved music. These include, but are by no means limited to: the a church choir singing “Beautiful Savior” a capella while interspersed within the congregation; a two-man acoustic bluegrass version of “Come thy Fount of Every Blessing”; and, frankly, anything that the band plays at the Hill’s Saturday evening service. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the first time I heard “The Old Rugged Cross” after my Dad passed away. I was a puddle.
I list all of these songs to say that I truly believe that God speaks to me, to many of us, through music. He speaks to me in other ways too, of course, but some of those methods take more effort than putting in my headphones and firing up my iPod. There is something so intrinsically powerful about some songs that I know in my heart that the music is inspired by God, that He is using music to reach my heart. Not unlike David playing his harp to King Saul, God uses music to give us comfort and relief.
I am lucky enough to lead the Church School praise band at the Hill, where 15 great, talented, enthusiastic middle-schoolers lead children’s worship with song every Sunday. The kids in Church School range from pre-K to fifth grade, so (naturally) some of the spoken parts are lost on the younger ones, but everyone jumps up and joins in when the band plays. I can see the music reaching these kids, making an impression, making them smile and praise God in meaningful ways. I hear my own three kids singing “I Am A C” and “The Hippo Song” randomly during homework or before bed and hope a similar impression is being made on other kids.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making Yourself known to us in so many ways, including music. Help us keep You and Your desires at the top of our mind, even if that means keeping the radio on in the background. Bring comfort to those who strain to hear You at times, reminding them that Your voice is never far from us. In Your name we pray. Amen.