The Power of Music and Song

Music is a part of our lives. From the song playing on your radio alarm as you wake up, to the elevator music you hear on you way to work, to the dinner music at a dinner out with your special person, music is all around us. Lullabies put our children to sleep, national anthems announce the start of a hockey game, and Happy Birthday makes us smile around a candle-lit cake. Music is also a big part of the church.

  • Music triggers memories.

Some couples have a song. It could be the song that was playing on their first date or another significant moment. Songs can take us back to occasions or moments of significance to us. I remember singing How Great Thou Art with some friends underneath tall evergreens on the shore of Heart Lake in northern British Columbia. We sang of God’s work in creation as the rain poured down and the lightning flashed against the night sky, lighting up the mountains around us. Every time I hear that song, I remember that place and that special moment.

In church, some songs remind us of special moments we had with God. The Goodness of God, by Bethel Music has a special place in my heart because I first heard it while in a low point in my life and it did a lot to lift me up and reorient myself with a renewed trust in God.

  • Songs teach us.

The tunes that stick in our head through the week remind us of the sermon we heard last Sunday and the truths that the Holy Spirit revealed to us. Humming or whistling a tune reminds us of something even when the words aren’t sung.

Statements read or spoken are not as easily retained as when in a song or put to a tune. As we sing songs together on Sunday morning or on our own throughout the week, we begin to internalize the words, and ultimately learn from them. Some of the great hymns of old were powerful because of the biblical truths they teach.

On the other hand, some of them taught us things that were not true. Christmas carols for instance taught us that baby Jesus didn’t cry, which can’t be true if He was truly human. How else would he have communicated his needs as a baby? We Three Kings declares there were three wisemen or Magi when the Bible doesn’t say that. Songs make assumptions and take poetic license, which is fine until we assume the words are truth.

Songs teach us. We just need to be aware what we are learning as we sing. Do the lyrics declare biblical truths that we can stand behind, or do they teach something contrary to what we preach and practice?

  • Songs speak to our hearts

Songs, and the music we sing them to, have a way of grabbing ahold of our hearts. They become personal expressions declaring great truths we agree with, or prayers expressing our hearts in a way we couldn’t until we heard and sang this song. Songs are the expression of the writer, and when we find a song where the writer expresses exactly what we want to say, it can be a wonderful experience. It gives words to feelings we may not have been able to articulate.

I have had songs help me declare my faith in God in the middle of the storms of my life. When everything seemed to be going wrong around me, I could join in with the song and reaffirm my belief that God was and is still sovereign even in my tough times.

Songs can make us laugh and make us cry as they enable us to put words to our emotions.

  • Songs Invigorate Us

Armies often had battle songs. National anthems inspire athletes to do their best at the Olympics. And songs can help us to rise to the challenges that face us every day. They don’t just give us something to identify with but draw us to commit to action. Songs can invite us to declare our allegiance to our God and King again.

There is power in music and song. We need to recognize that power and use it in a way that will continue to remind each other to keep looking to Jesus and honor God with our lives. Let’s encourage and inspire each other as we sing.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

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