Olivia, you bring such an interesting perspective. As a musician, it is a question I have not considered, and it’s brought a lot of meaning to my work. Thank you for sharing this.
The heart longs for beauty, a yearning that directs our eyes upwards toward heaven and I think is in part why music speaks so profoundly to our souls. RZIM did an interesting event on the importance of art in apologetics, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and somewhere in the annals of their Facebook page is a partial recording you might enjoy. Personally, music has been an analogy of our Christian walk, specifically as an individual, following in the footsteps of faith giants, and worshiping with the body of Christ.
A musician receives a challenging set of music and spends countless hours perfecting each measure. The musician cannot fully understand what the finished product will be, but he trusts the instructor to have a greater plan and know if the music is suited to his abilities. It takes faith to begin learning a piece without knowing how beautiful it can be, but we are called to a similar walk of faith as Christians (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Additionally, singing great hymns can remind “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) as we revel in the truth written by our forefathers and sing from the Psalms. Sometimes, when it seems like the world is so uncertain, singing words of praise from others who have written these hymns as a testimony of their faith has been the greatest blessing. As a kid, I would memorize the hymns as I learned them, and it’s one of the greatest blessings now that I’m older. I’d challenge you to memorize a hymn this week.
Finally, we must produce music together in harmony, perhaps an ingenious design from God who requires His children to learn to live together as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). We each must trust the gift of talent God has specifically assigned us and listen carefully to the call of other followers, too. One great tragedy in church music today is the division between fans of contemporary and traditional musical styles. Both sides must remember our calling in 1 Corinthians 8 to not be a stumbling block to others can be a testament to Christ’s love.
There are so many more analogies to make here… art is a measurement of a society’s sophistication, yet even the most barbarbic cultures have enjoyed music, a sign of God’s grace? Once we have begun a piece, we must continue until the end, no matter whether the audience has become distracted, a reminder to faithfully run the race set before us? My mind is churning from your insightful post, Olivia.
Music, no matter the genre, relates to the human condition and helps the heart feel understood. The musician and listener can feel pain, joy, and fear, an experience that transcends languages to help us understand our human condition. As apologists, we can draw this analogy towards Christianity. Abdu Murray describes how Christianity, in contrast to the other major world religions, meets us in each human experience. We are reminded God became man and experienced the same pains and joys we experience. As apologists, we can use music’s connections to begin meaningful conversations as we discuss the heart’s desire to be understood.
I’d love to hear how you bring praise to God through your artwork. I can tell you have a beautiful heart for God.