Category Archives: Music – January 2018

Jesus Loves Me

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My friend Nancy’s email about music made me think about the simple children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me.”  Although my mom couldn’t communicate much during the last years of her life, she could still sing, and the old hymns and Christian songs were favorites.  Jesus Loves Me always brought tears to her eyes.  My husband and I had a good Christian friend who asked that this song be sung at his funeral.  I think he felt its’ simple message captured the essence of his faith.  He’s not the only person who ever felt this way.  Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed minister, who was know as one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century was once asked to summarize all the words he had written about theology.  His answer?

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

The words of this song were first published in a novel entitled See and Seal by Anna And Susan Warner.  In the story a young boy named Johnny is dying.  His Sunday School teacher comforts him by making up this little song.  The novel became a best seller in the 186o’s, and the song, set to music by William Bradbury, became the best-known children’s hymn of all time.

 

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Funeral Songs

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Last night I received an email from my good friend, Nancy, who is also one of our faithful readers.  She mentioned that she had been at a funeral and the music was just lovely.  In her words:

In keeping with the blog, I went to the funeral yesterday of a dear friend from church. It was the most singing at a funeral that I have ever experienced, and it was perfect. One of the songs we sang was the “Hymn of Promise” that I had sent to you. And we sang a medley of last verses of six old hymns that all spoke of heaven and Jesus coming to “take us home.” There were more hymns- all were affirmations of faith and hope.

This made me think about the songs that uplift me in times of grief.  One of my favorites is “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.”  It’s an Easter song, based upon Job 19:25-26

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God,

Whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

I can’t imagine anything more comforting and hopeful than that word  picture.  Here’s the whole hymn, in case you don’t know it:

 

Martin Luther on Music #2

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“My heart which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.”

What about you?  Have you ever been comforted by music in a difficult time?  We’d like to hear your thoughts.

Martin Luther, Protestant, Statue

Sing — It’s Good For You

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“Praise the Lord!

For it is good to sing praises to our God;  for he is gracious and a song of praise is seemly.”   Psalm 147:1

The Bible tells us that singing is good;  Martin Luther said music is a gift from God.  Numerous studies also tell us that singing and music are not only good, they are good for us.  Here are some examples:

  1. Music education, even at a very young age, improves visual, verbal and communication skills
  2. Music keeps an aging brain healthy.  It’s exercise for the brain and promotes better memory and mental agility
  3. Music causes your brain to release dopamine which improves your mood, and reduces depression and anxiety
  4. Music strengthens the heart and has been shown to improve the recovery time of patients after heart surgery
  5. Music improves sleep quality
  6. Music boosts the immune system and reduces pain

My advice?  Go to a church where you sing and make a joyful noise to God at least once a week.  You’ll be happier and healthier.

 

 

 

 

 

Music as Prayer

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Years ago the Via de Cristo accountability group I was in  spent time discussing our prayer life.  One fellow in our group shared how each morning, he played a CD of favorite worship music.  He paid close attention to the words as well as the music and considered it a time of prayer.  That was eye-opening for me!  Music as prayer!

Sky, Asking God, Prayer, Open Arms

I took his advice and starting playing Christian music on Saturday as I cleaned the house.  Soon a time of drudgery was transformed into a peaceful place of communion with God.  I encourage others to try this — listen  to music when you’re doing mindless chores, driving, or just taking a break.  Speak to God in the words of the song, and let Him touch your heart in the same way.  God doesn’t care how we talk to Him, He just wants us to do it.

“…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”  Ephesians 5:18-20

Have any of our authors or readers also used music this way?  Tell us about your experience.

Reading the Psalms With Luther–Book Review

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I borrowed this book from my husband’s office at church because it looked like it fit well with our theme this month and some of the posts I have been doing on the Psalms.  The Psalter was Martin Luther’s daily prayer book as a monk and the subject of his initial lectures as a professor.  His lectures and commentaries on the Psalms fill five volumes in the American Edition of Luther’s Works  

 This book combines several resources.  The text of each Psalm is included along with the translation of Luther’s Summaries on that Psalm.  To maintain the devotional style some things have been omitted, and his shorter summaries supplemented with comments from other writings.  Each Psalm is also accompanied by a prayer drawn from Book of Devotion:  The Psalms by Rev. F. Kuegle.  The Book also includes instructions for singing the Psalms, categories of Psalms, and a schedule of Psalms for daily prayer.

Reading the Psalms With Luther is an excellent resource for individual or family devotions.  I hope some of our authors and readers will try it and post their opinion.

 

Joy Returning with a Smile

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In 2004 I served on my first Via de Cristo coed team. I had been a pilgrim in 2001, then served on women’s teams after that (my first being led by Joan Culler!), but this was my first coed team. Due to some unexpected problems, the team had been formed late. I had not met the rector (head of the team) before, but he was looking for a female who would serve on the music team and I was willing to give it a try.

The rector, a man named Andy Foor, instantly became a dear friend (Andy is like that). I remember so clearly that whenever we were leading the singing, Andy would step into the aisle between the tables and walk toward the music team, and he would smile – and when Andy smiles, so does everyone around him. I started smiling as I sang – with a joy that goes beyond ordinary smiling – and I continued smiling when singing praise music for a long time afterward.

The reason this is significant is that I was one of the music team at today’s Ultreya (a reunion gathering of the Via de Cristo community – ours are held every other month). And the reason that is significant is that it’s the first time I’ve led music since my surgery last summer (almost the first time I’ve held a guitar). Leading music takes a lot of energy, and I have to steward my energy carefully as I continue to recover.

Still, I thought I’d try it for this short period of time (actually, I thought I wouldn’t risk it, but God said, “Why not try?”). We sang only a few songs, but the room was full of unity and joy. As I heard the words, as I looked at the faces of old friends and new, I started to smile again and felt that joy in my heart – the joy of the presence of the Lord.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. (Psalm 68 4)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Music

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Song of Simeon

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The Song of Simeon, or Nunc Dimmitis (dismissal or departure)  is can be found in Luke 2:29-32.  It is a  joyful canticle (hymn appearing in the Bible) sung by Simeon when he recognized Jesus as the Savior, the one for whom he has been waiting.  Most assume Simeon was an old man, but we really don’t know; the Bible doesn’t tell us that.  We just know that he was righteous and devout and the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Christ.

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;

For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

I’ve always loved this passage.  Lutherans sing or recite it after communion, to remind ourselves that like Simeon, we are now also waiting for the Lord’s return.  It speaks of faith and salvation and brings a sense of peace.

Blessings

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Michele challenged us a while back to blog about a song that really spoke to our hearts.  I know, I’m just now getting around to this, but I do have many songs that speak to me in so many different ways.  But one song stands out from the rest, “Blessings” by Laura Story.

All of us have times when we wonder if God’s left us.  Life takes a nasty turn and we feel that the Lord has turned his back. When I first heard this song I was struggling to trust the Lord in my situation.  My husband was disabled from a brain tumor and his health was getting worse.  I was still supporting my son and his family, which included two autistic sons.  Sometimes the tension around the house would be thick since my husband and son didn’t always get along and other various things that happen when you mesh two families together.  It was during this time that I first heard the song “Blessings”.  The words struck my heart and found a home there.

After I had heard the song several times I looked up Laura Story and found out that her husband had also had a brain tumor and that was the situation that brought this song about.  That had to be a God thing; her husband had a brain tumor, too?

Here is a quote from Laura Story regarding “Blessings”:

The song shows that we still have more questions than answers. But there’s a decision that I find God is asking us to make. Are we going to judge God based on our circumstances, or are we going to choose to interpret our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God?

Our circumstances have magnified the blessing of marriage. As high school sweethearts, we faced the strong chance that our long-awaited marriage bond might last just two years. Once you’ve rallied through a life-threatening illness together, the rest of it is like a surprise; every day is a new gift that might not have been there. It’s not as big a deal now if he leaves his socks on the floor.

The words of James 1:2–“Consider it a great joy … whenever you experience various trials”–ring especially true and duly influence the joyful, wisdom-loving tone throughout “Blessings.”

Don’t get the wrong idea. It hasn’t been easy. Everyone wants to be a mature and equipped follower, but would I have signed up had I known what it would take? God has grown us up, deepened our faith, our awareness of our great need for Him as a Savior, daily. We knew it before, but we didn’t see it.

I hope you are as blessed by this song as I continue to be.  Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

Chorus:
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise