I have learned in my life, that music is powerful beyond words, and often does what words alone can never do. I have often heard or read a certain Scripture which may have had only marginal impact on me. And then the choir takes it up in song, and it is pressed on my heart like never before, such that I can never forget it.
I have also learned with humility that I may preach boldly, but that it is often the choir’s sung response that makes the thought catch fire. I have learned to link what I preach to what is sung and work carefully with the choir and musicians. For while the spoken word my inform and even energize, the sung word strikes even deeper, engraving the word not only in the mind, but touching the deepest parts of the heart.
There is an old saying:
Bach gave us God’s Word, Mozart gave us God’s laughter, Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us music that we might pray without words. — quote from outside a German opera house
Scripture says the Lord puts music in our hearts and that many, by it will be summoned to faith: The Lord set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:3-4)
Yes, music can often reach where mere words cannot.
In this remarkable video, there is a older man, Henry, who, likely due to a seizures or other age-related factors, had largely turned inward. In fact his very posture illustrates well St. Augustine’s remarkable diagnosis of our problem: curvatus in se (turned in on himself).
Henry’s daughter remembers a lively vivacious man who quite literally danced through life a had such a joix de vivre. But in the last ten years he had shut down and turned in.
Then the miracle, a miracle in something ordinary, yet mystical: music. Wait till you see how it awakens Henry. Quite an astonishing difference. Yes, and suddenly there came the discovery for the staff of the nursing home, and Henry’s daughter, that there was someone “alive inside” Henry’s aging body. Alive indeed, the human soul still deeply touched by the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Henry says when he hears music, “I feel loved….the Lord came to me and made me a holy man…So he gave me these sounds.”
It’s the old Henry, the real Henry, alive and joyful. Where word’s fail, music speaks. Where therapy struggles, music soars.
I am mindful of an older woman I used to visit, Ms. Lorena, she died some years back at age 104. And when I’d visit, there wasn’t much she or I could say. But suddenly, gently, I’d start singing one of those old hymns, “Hmm…By and by….yes, we’ll understand it better by and by.” And Ms. Lorena would light up and join in. She’d sit up straight and be young again.
An old spiritual says, Over my head, I hear music in the air, there must be a God somewhere. Yes, Mr. Henry knows, yes, Ms. Lorena knows, there IS a God somewhere. And when words alone fail, He still calls through music.
Enjoy this powerful video: