Got Music?

Do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do.  Do those words mean anything to you?  You may recognize these as the words that designate the eight tones of a musical scale. Are you someone who knows how to play the piano or some other musical instrument?  Many of you have had the opportunity to take music lessons when you were young, and thankfully, nearly all of you have sung in classrooms, school programs, and choirs through your years in school. You also sing every week in church as part of your worship.

Music is a beautiful gift from God, created by him and given to you to be a part of your life. With its stirring melodies and inspiring words, music is often powerful and moving, helping to build strong connections to other believers, while strengthening the faith of those who use it to express their love for their God. For you as a young person, music is a unique way to give expression to your growing and maturing faith as you more and more experience the fellowship known only by those who walk close to him as one of his own.

In the Old Testament church, some of the Levites were appointed to be professional singers, and they were “employed in that work day and night.” (I Chron. 9:33).  These men were trained and instructed as singers “for song in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries (a type of stringed instrument—JS), and harps, for the service of the house of the Lord” (I Chron. 25:6).  They were also appointed unto the Lord, that they “should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army” (II Chron. 20:21).  It is worthwhile to note that these musicians were both skilled and valued, as musicians should also be today.  Music is not an accessory to life, but a beautiful necessity, and the Bible is full of exhortations to praise our God both with our voices and on instruments.  Google the word praise, for example, in any Bible application, and a myriad of passages from both the Old and New Testaments will come up.

God created music with its own unique set of rules, and anyone who has taken any music theory soon realizes that our God has made the whole world of music to reflect his grace and beauty.  It also becomes clear that God is a God of order, as is seen in the progression of chords and harmonies.  But you may not have had the opportunity to plunge into the depths of music by studying music theory. So how can you develop an appreciation for music, and how can you continue to use your musical abilities once you have left the classrooms, bands, and choirs of your schools?

Exposure to different kinds of music teaches you what good music can sound like.  By listening to well-crafted music you quickly learn what kind of music produces a pleasing sound and what is grating and obnoxious.  You then learn to recognize proper tone and balance, emotion and expression, and you also realize that singing or playing louder is not always better; that a loud, chesty, abrasive voice is not nearly as pleasing as a clear, pure, head voice with well formed vowels.  You also develop an ear for pleasing instrumental combinations and appealing arrangements.  Wherever you live, there are opportunities to attend concerts and programs given by churches, community organizations, musical groups, bands, choirs, and symphonies.  Take advantage of these and expand your musical background.  You can also consider participating in some of these yourself.  You will have to use discretion, since sometimes the secular music used is not suitable for Christians, but do not deny yourself the opportunity to learn from other people’s styles, approaches, methods, and goals.  Then take what you have learned from that experience, evaluate it and see if there are ways to do something different and better, and bring improvement to your own musical opportunities.  You can also take lessons to learn better technique and performance etiquette in order to enhance your singing and playing skills.  As young adults, continue to grow and learn and improve.

Where can you use your musical abilities?  The opportunities are as boundless as your willingness and your courage.  Do you know how to play the piano? Consider learning to play the organ.  Our churches always need good organists to lead the congregations in singing.  Instead of surfing the web, why not haul out your old saxophone or flute and play for a little while?  Instead of getting together with your friends in front of the television, why not gather some of your friends and play your instruments together?  Do you know anyone who plays a guitar?  Sing together. Learn some fun songs or some rounds. Try singing the harmonies of some Psalter numbers or hymns. How about going to a retirement home or a nursing home to play the piano?  You don’t have to be amazing to entertain some old folks and brighten their day for a little while. Maybe you can join your church choir, or if your church doesn’t have a choir, see if you can possibly start one.  You don’t begin as a performing professional, but singing or playing an instrument is a skill, so focus on challenging yourself in rehearsal and performance to improve your musical skills, and bring glory to God by doing your best work. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Eccles. 9:10).  When you do spend time singing, whether in church, or in your car, or even in the shower, work on good singing techniques.  When you play your instrument, whether the piano or something else, work to maintain and improve your skill level for both the Lord’s sake and for your own personal growth.

Someday we will be in heaven singing and playing music perfectly.  When you are able to taste even a little bit of that while you are on this earth, you will be blessed with a small glimpse of what lies ahead. While you are still here, remember the words of Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord  Praise ye the Lord.” Work, continue to grow, and press on.