BY JON MOODY, WORSHIP DIRECTOR
I love music and I’ve loved it ever since I was a kid. When I was younger it was probably because of the musical melody and drum beat (rather than the synthesized beats since this was the 90’s - a musical period I really hope we never return to as a society.) As I got older, I appreciated more the lyrical side of a song and the story that it would tell. Music has connected people and societies throughout all recorded human history and I believe that music is something that is very dear to God as well as a great gift from Him.
The first recorded mention of music in the Bible comes from Genesis 4:21:
“His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.”
As most may know, Genesis 4 is about Cain and Abel. Jubal was a descendant of Cain, and scripture points out that he was essentially the forefather of musicians. We also see the use of music in Exodus 15:20 when the Israelites are crossing the Red Sea. During Moses’ song we read:
“Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing.”
If you take a look at the Psalms you will see that there are SEVERAL instances of music and musical instruments being used in connection with declaring how good the Lord is. My favorite verse of music in the Psalms is Psalms 33:3:
“Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”
There are just so many verses that touch on this topic!
And did you know that listening or playing music actually has physical effects on your body, most notably your brain? Many scientific studies have been done on the effects of music on your brain and health. Studies have shown that of the several effects it has on the human body, most notably music can help alleviate pain by releasing dopamine in your brain. Have you ever listened to a song and it reminded you of something that happened earlier in your life? Well, there is a specific part of your brain that engages when you hear a song that connects music with memories and emotions. If you are interested in reading some of the other effects music has on us, visit this website. It is some really interesting stuff!
So given all that, why is it that we use music in our times of worship?
IMITATING A CREATIVE GOD
Well, we serve a creative God to start. Genesis 1 is the account of how God created everything in the heavens and on the earth. There is so much beauty on the earth, from the incredible landscapes we get to enjoy here in the Northwest to the immensely vast oceans that make up most of our world. Many of the creatures that God created are beautiful and pleasing to look at (insects, not so much…). Let’s be honest, it had to take a very creative God to make all of it that we see on earth!
In Ephesians 5, the header of the chapter is “Be Imitators of God.” This encompasses everything from imitating His character, His love and even includes His creative nature. Verse 19 says:
“speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;”
What does music consist of? It consists of melodic notes that create a song in a key which is often accompanied by lyrics sung in a melody. Followers of Jesus who create music are doing what Paul encouraged them to do, being an imitator of the creative God that they serve. And we use those songs in our gatherings because of the gift that music is and it’s a gift that God gave to us. A gift that is mentally, physically and spiritually beneficial!
Song and music have gone hand in hand ever since the early days of human existence as shown in Genesis 4. Great men and women of God have used instruments to support the songs God has given them, from Moses and Miriam to King David and even the disciples. God designed song and music to live in harmony together, to support one another. I think songs are better when it has music to go with it. But maybe that’s just a biased musician talking. :)