Obviously, music can serve many different purposes for many different people. It can help pick you up when you’re feeling sad about something, or you can scream a fast and aggressive song if you need to “vent,” or it could even relax you. Sometimes, a certain song can give a person such a good feeling and be such a strong reminder of a loved one that it becomes “their song.” But what a lot of people don’t really notice is that music plays an incredibly strong part in worship. Think about it, have you ever been to a church or special service that doesn’t have some sort of music playing at the beginning and/or end? Many modern churches use the method of putting the lyrics on the screen for the congregation to sing along with, while many other churches, like my own, use the old hymnals that provide the words and the sheet music for it as well. To me, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. For the contemporary stuff, you can’t always tell how the melody or rhythm is going to sound until you hear it a few times, but sometimes it seems to have a better way of “building” up to a high point in the song. The hymnals have the pitches and rhythms right there on the page, but this isn’t always helpful if one can’t read music, and sometimes we tend to focus so much on getting every note and rhythm right, we don’t pay enough attention to the lyrics and the power in them.
Personally, I like the hymnals better. Don’t get me wrong, I think the modern stuff is amazing too, primarily because of the meaning and the inspiration behind the songs. However, you can usually take an old hymn and make it your own if you try for it. Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and Vince Gill have all successfully taken some of their favorites and sang them in their own style, and all these performances were so well thought out and had so much emotion behind them. Every now and then, my church will ask my dad and me to bring our guitars and sing on some Sundays, and we’ve done many different songs. I like playing the ones that everybody knows and no one needs a book for, because at that point, nobody in the room is focusing on the written melody. Everybody pays attention to the words so much better when they don’t have a book sitting in front of them. Some of my favorites include The Old Rugged Cross, I’ll Fly Away, Mansion Over the Hilltop, and though it may not really be considered a Christian song to many, I really love Hallelujah. These songs always get the crowd singing and it’s so much fun every time.
I go to a southern gospel music school every July for about two weeks called TSGSM (Texas Southern Gospel School of Music). I’ve been attending since I was thirteen and it has been such a great experience for me both musically and spiritually. For two weeks, we learn about music and God, and on top of that, we get to sing about God ALL THE TIME! We have devotionals every morning, and at the end of the two weeks, we make a CD of all the songs we’ve learned and hold a concert the last night. I even played and sang The Old Rugged Cross at the concert one year, and the crowd’s reaction was so uplifting. To this day, I still consider that one of the best spiritual experiences of my life.
There are so many different ways to connect to somebody spiritually, but I think music is the best way to speak to that side of me. I hope you all enjoyed this post, and even more, I hope you give music a chance to speak to you spiritually, whether it be a hymnal or a contemporary piece. Thank you for reading!
“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.” -Psalms 98:4
“Even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before my Lord with song and nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.” -Leonard Cohen, “Hallelujah”