Music soothes the savage beast

I believe one of the most powerful mediums in our society is that of music. It has the power to divide opinions and polarise communities as people declare their affection for various artists or genres. For many years we have banned the discussion of musical preferences among our children due to the perpetual arguments that ensue about the musical merits of Taylor Swift versus Daft Punk!

I have a fairly broad and eclectic musical library but there are some very clear ‘no go’ zones with me. I cannot stomach country and western songs or bagpipes along with some of the Asian influenced folk songs. They all say ‘depressing’ and monotonous to me, where I know others who would walk across broken glass to be able to listen to these types of compositions.

And then there is brass band music, polka music, techno-funk, a Cappella, reggae, blues, rock and roll, jazz, classical, Gregorian chants, punk rock, sacred music, Broadway musicals, hip hop … the list is seemingly endless. For each of these categories you will find some who are passionately for them and others equally passionate against!

There are also times that music can be a uniting force that brings people together in one voice.  Picture the singing of National Anthems, or the football theme songs at the end of a victorious match.

What is it about music that affects us so deeply?  Somehow it has the capacity to speak directly to our souls, and it is often a purely subjective thing.  It may tap into some fond memories and experiences, or equally painful ones.  I know of people who cannot hear ‘Amazing Grace’ and can’t help but cry at the song that was used at their parent’s funeral.  Others have a similar response to ‘Abide with Me’ in connection to ANZAC commemorations.

During times of desperation, when nothing else makes sense or is able to get through to me, without fail a piece of music can touch my heart in such a way that it will bring healing, or answers, or hope. God brought our world the gift of music.

If you don’t believe me, just take the time to listen to bird calls at dawn. There is music all around us, and in distinct variety. I believe this is because God created us to be different, each one of us an individual with our own tastes and preferences. So despite me not appreciating bagpipe music, I recognise that God made it for a particular type of person to enjoy and that’s okay.

In the book of Ephesians chapter 5 and verses 19-20 tell us to ‘sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God for everything’ and I guess that includes those expressions that I don’t enjoy, but others do.

In 1 Chronicles chapter 15 verse 16 King David tells his temple musicians to ‘make a joyful sound’ as part of their worship. Notice that word “joyful”. Not tuneful, not pleasant, not traditional, not contemporary, not loud, not quiet but joyful. Literally full of joy. That’s the ingredient that makes all the difference.

When we share in music with joy we offer God praise with a gift He has given us to enjoy and it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes our particular offering. It is perfectly okay to be different because that is the way he made us and that includes those who enjoy country and western music too!

Be joyful and blessed.

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