A video is circulating on Facebook that shows a young man sitting quietly at baseball game when Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” begins to blast from the speakers. The music pulls him out of his seat and he is transformed into an exuberant happiness machine — moving among those seated around him, touching them and hugging them. The people are not troubled by this, as you might expect. The music has transformed them, too — they are touched by the young man’s happiness and willing to be part of his experience.
Music transforms us.
I’ve always loved riding in the car with my daughter. Something about moving along the highway, windows down and radio blaring, frees her from her stresses. She sings loudly and passionately with everything from Queen to Billy Joel to Young the Giant to David Crowder to The Black Keys. For a while, she kept a cowboy hat in the back seat so that she could pop it on her head when she drove to signify this freedom from life’s troubles and pure abandonment to the music.
Music frees us.
This morning at Bible study, one of our ladies came in weeping as she announced that a close friend has just a short time to live. Many shared their condolences. Later, as we closed our time together, we had a corporate prayer as we always do. Women took turns lifting their praises, thanks, concerns, and requests. The time was winding to a close when the woman whose friend is dying said, “forgive me, a song just came to me.” She began to sing and several around the table hummed along, joining her in worship.
Music consoles us.
Also at Bible study this morning was a woman whose husband left his life with Alzheimer’s last week to start his life in Heaven. She was beaming when she entered the room. She had labored with him for five hard years and was so relieved that his battle was over. She pulled a folded paper from her purse that she had found this morning in her husband’s Bible — it noted the date and time when he had accepted Jesus as his Savior. She said, “Isn’t that wonderful?!” She asked us if we would join her tomorrow at her husband’s funeral. “Won’t it be fun?!” she exclaimed.
I knew what she was talking about because she attended the funeral for my dear friend just a few weeks ago. I happened to catch her out of the corner of my eye as the praise music played. I knew that at the time her husband was at home with hospice workers, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that from looking at her. As she sang the songs, her hands were raised and her smile was wide. I know she is looking forward to experiencing that again tomorrow.
Music transports us.
Yesterday morning I attended a chapel service commemorating Veteran’s Day. A few dozen veterans, some from World War II, some from Korea and Vietnam, some from the Gulf Wars, and some just starting their service, were seated near the front of the huge sanctuary. The choir sang “O, Beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain…” As they sang verse after verse, I began to hear the voices of those seated around me –men and women in uniforms, jackets, and vests, denoting their service — began to sing along. At first it was quiet, but it built, unashamedly — that song of unity.
Music unites us.
It’s a gift, isn’t it. We don’t need it, surely. It’s an unnecessary blessing that breathes life into us, refreshes us, and inspires us. Thank you, God, for music.
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.