The Sweet Power of Music
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
The Psalmist says man is “made . . . a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned . . . with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). If in the whole hierarchy of creation we hold this unique closeness to the heavenly sphere, then it is no wonder that man feels drawn to “the sweet sounds of music.” How sterile and desolate life would be without music. In the book of Job, we are told that music was present at the beginning when God created the universe “while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).
When music is absent, the door opens to a world of discord and conflict, and man’s mortal nature asserts itself or, as Shakespeare says, “The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted” (Merchant of Venice).
Elsewhere in the play, Shakespeare says that music mirrors the harmonious hand of God behind everything in the natural world: “For do but note a wild and wanton herd, or race of youthful and unhandled colts, fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud, which is the hot condition of their blood; if they but hear perchance a trumpet sound, or any air of music touch their ears, you shall perceive them make a mutual stand, their savage eyes turn’d to modest gaze by the sweet power of music.”
Music opens the heart to the harmony that existed between God and man, the creature He created in His own image (Genesis 1:27-28). It is as if music lifts the heart up into the company of angels choiring in heaven. In its holist expression, music speaks to us about the presence of God in all dimensions of creation, both at the beginning and even now at this very moment.