Music soothes the soul. You’ve heard that. I experience that, do you? Music can express what we’re feeling but can’t find words for. Sometimes we know we’re “feeling” but don’t even know what we’re feeling or why. Music can touch that place and help us identify what and why we’re feeling what we’re feeling. This is why music is one of the hardest elements of a church service early in your grief. The music touches the places that hurt the most. Most bereaved parents cry during lots of music. Who can sing “Amazing Grace” without tears for months or years after the funeral!?! Music soothes the soul. At a time in his life, King Saul was tormented in his mind. His attendants recommended finding someone who could play a harp well and found David. When he was tormented, the King called for the musician, who played and comforted Saul. “Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better… (I Samuel 16:14-25). (There is a whole other level of meaning one could search out in this passage. Saul had been disobedient and disrespectful to God, God’s spirit left him, an evil spirit entered and tormented him. And it is said this spirit is from God. But I don’t want or need to get into that sort of stuff here. For the purposes of this conversation, we’re focusing on the role of music. Saul was hurting and his people recommended some good soothing music. And it worked to calm his heart.)
Music soothes the soul. Not only does it express what’s in us, it can impress us with a new thought or a new hope! That’s the kind of music a bereaved parent needs to hear! It can be a vehicle of comfort. That’s so valuable when a person is uncomfortable.
I have wondered why music touches our heart so deeply, and this is what I have come up with: The one who wrote the words was feeling something deeply. He worked on expressing that deep feeling with just the right words and cadence to express it so that the hearer “gets it.” The composer was feeling something deeply too. And the music takes that message to the deep parts of the heart of the hearer. It touches our hearts.
I’m not a scientist about these things. I’m sure someone has studied music and its effects more carefully than I. But I’m wondering whether it has something to do with the history of mankind and how important rhythm is. Heartbeats. Rain drops. Babbling brooks. The Angels sang. All are life or life-giving. The music man creates mimics these important things. And it’s almost life-giving. It touches our lives.
One important warning: Since music can impress our hearts and minds with new ideas, it’s important to choose carefully what we listen to. We want comfort and peace and true ideas. We want to avoid music that isn’t life-giving in its sound or message. Be thoughtful and careful about what you give your time and attention to. Once you have done that, listen, let the peace of God enter and comfort you.