It always comes as an understatement: Music is powerful. I seem to be reminded of this most of all when I listen to something instrumental. As someone who loves language, writing, and words, I look for the lyrics first in a song. The lyrics are a big deal to me. They need to be clever. Whatever words are used, they need to be clever. And there's no limit to how this can be done. I've heard songs with short and simple repetitive words, and I've heard songs with phrases and words I've never heard of or would never think to put together, and they all are brilliantly written. It's not the words that are used, it's how they're arranged. If I can predict the next line in the song, it's usually a poorly written one. I love lyrics.
But without the lyrics, the song still stands. It's the instrumental stuff that pierces me because sometimes it's not about words. Sometimes I just need to shut up. One of my favortite stories (probably made up, who knows) was about Beethoven going to visit a friend mouring the death of a loved one. Beethoven never spoke a word at this visit. He simply went to his friend's piano, played a song, and left. The friend said he received more comfort from that visit than from anyone else's.
On Sunday mornings I have a brilliant and talented group to lead me in worship. They know and love their music. Sometimes, my worship leader can go a whole song without ever opening his eyes. That's power. To be taken somewhere else entirely by an arrangement of sounds. Music is powerful. Beautiful. When you see someone that lost, the words don't matter anymore. Perhaps even the music doesn't matter anymore. It's all been blended into a collection of somethings that takes you ...... somewhere. And you're lost. But right where God wants you. I'm listening to Explosions in the Sky right now and I gotta say, it does a pretty good job of clearing my head. That's nice at the end of the day. It wouldn't work if the song was cluttered with words which would only clutter my mind more.
So many of my greatest blessings were experienced with music in the starring role. Tonight at our Christmas service, our worship leader played my favorite worship song. It wasn't planned, it was the last one, and I never hear anyone do it in church anymore. I usually have to sing it to myself to hear it. But God can do anything. For me. On the way back to my house on July 27, 2009, I was stuck in a traffic jam. Never think your day can't get any worse. Sitting in a daze of hardest loss I've encountered, what should come on the radio station that rarely comes in? That song where every word and sound matches your every thought and feeling at that time. Because God can do anything. For me.
"Music is a fair and glorious gift of God," a random piece of wood on a wall once said. Indeed.
"We'll sing and dance in heaven," Grandma once said. I sure hope so. Because I think "pretty music" is in the definition of heaven somewhere. Along with "smells like chocolate chip cookies" and "Bekah will finally be able to play the violin."