Be the Music

William Congreve once wrote (in The Mourning Bride, 1697) that "Music has charms to sooth a savage beast".

This is also reflected in the Bible, where "whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him" (1 Sam 16:23). While the Bible doesn't exactly describe the process of what happened, a good guess would be that:
i) David's worship unto God set an example for Saul to focused on God.
ii) David's music soothed Saul's emotions and gave him the inner strength to reject the spirit.

It is on (ii) that I'll briefly expand on.

I once thought about what art was, and my definition was that art (including music) was a medium that affected emotions through the senses. We might feel inspired when faced with a majestic painting; we might feel a warmth inside while enjoying the graceful moves of a dance. Similarly, music reaches deep into our emotions through sound. For example, no horror flick can ever create the necessary tension without sound (e.g. the 'Psycho' music as the killer walks into the bathroom, or the music that comes on when Jaws reaches its victims).

Hence, in the context of worship, music evokes feelings of wonder, of peace; it can uplift the wearisome spirit, it can instill feelings of hope into the downcast. But this is not an end in itself - it is by breaking down negative feelings that the worshiper becomes prepared emotionally to praise God, to receive God's word, to come into God's presence.

As worship musicians, it is our job to create music that fulfills this purpose. But music, saturated with positive emotions, does not appear out of mid-air, and neither is it carried by the chords and notes of a song. The feelings that music carries comes from the musicians themselves.

For example, Tommy Emmanuel once shared how while listening to Chet Akins' music, he felt that he knew and understood Chet, as the music was infused with Chet's personality. While listening to great music from artistes like Tommy Emmanuel and Marit Larsen, I get the feeling that I am introduced to the artistes as the music is them.

A badminton coach I met once remarked that the ratchet is not a tool, but an extension of the player's arm. Likewise, music isn't just soundwaves bouncing around, but an extension of you, of your worship, your feelings, your personality even. Returning to the David, I believe that David's music was likewise an extension of his dedication and loyalty towards God, and this positive model influenced Saul through music, better than any prep talk could.

Hence you need to ask yourself:
i) To what extent can you make a song become an extension of your personal worship, your feelings, your personality?
ii) Is the result conducive to worship? It will only be if your walk with God is close, & if you are worshiping on stage.


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U-jean said...

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