Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Who Can Write Music?

           Pastors and theologians, of course; in fact, many preachers have been better-known for their songs than their sermons. Monks. Schoolteachers. Pharmacists. Fathers, mothers, old folks on their death bed, and teenagers. Evangelists. Lawyers. Piano teachers. English, German, Spanish, Indian, Israeli, and many other nationalities. Lovers. Divorced persons. Those who were single all their lives. Sailors. Knights. Soldiers. Those raised in church and those who were atheists before meeting Christ. Farmers. Cooks. College students. Gipsies. People with black skin, people with white skin, and people with all the shades in-between. Rich people. Poor people. Educated people and uneducated people.

          Flipping through a book that tells the stories behind 150 hymns, some well-known and some more obscure, these are the situations of the authors that I see; I didn’t make up anything. Do you find yourself somewhere in there? Surely, all of us are somewhere in there; in fact, I even threw in my own situations to personalize it for me: I was a cook at college when I wrote my first hymn.

          Profession, ethnicity, language, education, age, and gender do not stand in the way of making godly music. What does, if anything? There is something….

          There must be a personal relationship with Christ.

          That’s it. If you have come to know Jesus Christ as the only Saviour from your sins that would have landed you in eternal punishment, then you have what it takes to make music unto the Lord!

          God-honouring songs express a variety of things that we will look at in depth later, but we will quickly peek at them right now:

ü  They express a worshipful (loving, awe-inspired, etc.) response to God.

ü  They express a testimony of what God has done.

ü  They express teaching that believers need to know.

ü  They express warnings that believers need to heed.

ü  They express promises that believers need to remember.

So, as a believer, do you love God? Do you worship Him? Do you feel awe toward Him? Then you can choose to use a song to express that worship. Do you have a testimony of His salvation (if you’re a believer, you do!)? Do you have a testimony of His grace, His provision, His protection, His guidance? Write a song about it! Have you learned a lesson from Scripture that you would like to teach others? Would you like to warn others of some danger that is on your heart? Do you know of someone who needs encouragement from one of God’s promises? Use song to answer these needs.

It’s actually quite normal and natural. When I’m overflowing with joy, I often break out in the song “In my Heart There Rings a Melody”, or another song that expresses the joy in my heart. When I’m confused about my future and what I should do, songs like “He Leadeth Me” help to console me. When a good preacher wants to impress some truth on the minds of his listeners, he will choose a good song that matches his topic to drive in that truth. Of course, I often find myself lacking a song that fits exactly with my situation, and so I will write a new one; and many others throughout history have done this, as well.

The “who” is only limited by your relationship with Christ:

1.   Do you know Him? And,
2.   Are you submitted to His working through you (Phil. 4:13)?

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
....Even make music.

Soli Deo Gloria


Monday, December 4, 2017

Why Write Music?

          The first question I would like to explore with you is the “why” of writing music. This is the natural starting point in any discussion, really, because if there is no reason behind it, there is no motivation. On the other hand, if there is motivation to do something, one will commit to jumping through complex hoops to attain the goal. Specifically for writing music, even if you have never been trained in writing or playing music, if your motivation is strong enough, it will drive you to learning until you can master it. So, let’s grasp that motivation!

A quick search on E-Sword (the Bible software program that I like to use) of the words “sing praise” brought me to some good reasons for making music. Some were commanded to sing praises; David indicated that he could not fulfill his daily vows to the Lord until he had sung His praise; others declared that it was solely their delight to praise God. It is described as a good thing to sing praises to the Most High (Ps. 92). The Bible views the making of such music to the Lord as not only (though most importantly) glorifying to God, but also as beneficial to the singer (player) and to those who hear (see Eph. 5:18-21 and Col. 3:12-17, where making music to the Lord is connected with the filling of the Spirit, true thankfulness, biblical submission, forgiveness, mercy, perfect love, patience with each other, peace, wisdom, and teaching others). Music has always been a vital part of a relationship with God, whether in Israel’s temple or today in the Church. For those who think like me (visually), here is a simplified list of the benefits of making music:

ü  It glorifies God

ü  It promotes a worshipful attitude

ü  It answers the joyful heart with a way to respond

ü  It calms frustrations, anger, and fear

ü  It produces peace in the heart and love toward God and others

ü  It teaches those who hear

That’s a good list. I could expound on each of those points, but you probably get the idea. Music is good for our spirits! And if that’s the case, we ought to be in the business of making it. Too many people are going to the wrong places for medicine for their aching hearts; but good, God-honouring music is a powerful balm for the hurting spirit. We can help others by teaching them and encouraging them through good music, and we can teach our own hearts in that way, too. So if the Lord is the Great Physician, in a sense, we are His pharmacists filling His prescriptions.

That’s some pretty good motivation for joining the long line of people who have made music unto the Lord! In our next post in this series, we’ll take a look at what kind of people make up this line, and we’ll see if we qualify to join. Until then, my heart will go on singing!

Soli Deo Gloria!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Welcome to the Music-Making Workshop!

                    Megan not only has a great interest in art and many artsy things, she also has a natural talent for such things. While I enjoy much of that as well, my interests lie more in the musical realms of art. I play the cello and sing alto (generally the lead) and sometimes either soprano or tenor, and I plink around on the piano, as well. But these various instruments are only the surface of my love for music.

          My greatest aspiration in music is not to be the best cellist in the world, but it is to leave behind a legacy of written music that others can use for years after I’m gone. On this blog in the next several posts I write, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way with the hopes that it will help readers to either begin or continue writing music!

          Now, I’m not a professional music-anything. I’ve never gone to any high-end music schools or even had piano lessons. I taught myself to play cello (except for one year of orchestra in school). I played the bell set for a year in a small high school band. I grew up singing in church all my life and listening to the radio; at Bible school, I sang in the choir for all three years. Other than that, I’ve googled articles about music.

Perhaps my training sounds a lot like yours, and you’re just a regular person. The good news is that you don’t have to go to NYC’s famous Juilliard School for music or sing with a best-selling band in order to make music! Don’t get me wrong: growing up, it was my dream to go to Juilliard someday (which will probably never happen). But music is a gift that God has given all of humanity to enjoy, and people have been making music for much longer than Juilliard has been around. In these posts, I want to help ordinary people realize that it is within their capability to make wonderful music.

So, what am I going to say? I’m going to use some friends I met in grammar class to conduct this series. Allow me to introduce to you the Question Sisters: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Each of these questions will help us to explore some aspects of making music. (I will try to footnote unoriginal ideas, but most of what I share will be information that I picked up or came up with over the years.)

When I say “making music”, I mean just that. That could be expressed in the writing of lyrics, the writing of notes, the arranging of notes, the adding of harmony, the writing of dynamics, and/or the performing of a song. So, whether you’re making it for the first time or remaking a song, you’re making music! And when we break it down, you’ll see just how much fun it can be to make music.

So, welcome to the Music-Making Workshop!

Soli Deo Gloria!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Balancing God's Attributes

        “….‘And the greatest of these is love.’ You see, of all that God is, it is most important that He is love. It is His greatest characteristic. He could have emphasized His justice and wrath, He could have emphasized His power, but He chose to emphasize His love. Where would we be without His love?”
     The preacher’s voice rand loudly throughout the small sanctuary, almost deafeningly, and several hearty “Amens” echoed back. But some in the congregation knew that the preacher wasn’t quite right. Where did he go wrong? Well, first of all, he was misapplying Scripture, since 1 Corinthians 13 is not teaching that love is God’s choicest attribute. Secondly, the preacher didn’t know God as he should have as a minister in the pulpit, and this is to his shame; for if he were to know the God of the Bible, he would have been unable to bring himself to say what he did.
     So, what would he say, if he knew God? Let’s take a moment to introduce our preacher to Jehovah God. This God is loving and wrathful; He is just and merciful; the omniscience, omnipotence, and transcendence of God is side-by-side with His patience and goodness. This God is truth itself, and thus always truthful; He is perfect, He is righteous, He is unchanging, and He is infinite. But, preacher, He is not more loving than He is just, or more merciful than He is truthful. Knowing the harmony of God’s attributes, our preacher can no longer say that any one attribute is the most important. The Lord is not only all of these things, but He is all of these things perfectly at the same time.
     Our preacher now begins to think: If God’s love were more important than His wrath, then none would go to hell, for His love must needs be satisfied over His wrath. Now we are ignoring the clear teaching in Scripture that God is just in His wrath and punishment of sin, and that “broad is the way that leadest to destruction, and many there be which go in” (Matt. 7:13, etc.).
     Or perhaps, he thinks, On the other hand, if God were all-righteous but His goodness suffered, we could never condemn Him for partiality, but perhaps we would no longer see rain for our crops or a beautiful sunny day or enjoy the luxuries of a warm cup of tea and a cozy couch to snuggle into. God is under no obligation to give these things, but purely in His goodness does He provide them. So in reading several psalms, our preacher is reminded that God is declared to be both good and righteous at once.
     Now, thinks the preacher, Suppose God were patient: ultimately patient with us! Yet if He were not all-powerful, what means would He have to remain so patient? If His power knew limits, surely His patience would, too. Yet again, the preacher finds so many words in Scripture to describe the Lord’s might that he begins to list them all, and in his reading sees that the Almighty is very patient with mankind.
     Now, thinks the preacher again, what if the Lord were holy and could not endure the sight of sin, as Scripture teaches, and thus must punish sin through His justice, yet what if He did not know all? Surely some secret sin would escape His holy and just punishment, and then He could not be perfectly just, only as just as He is knowledgeable. Then the preacher reads Psalm 139 and sees that the Lord certainly knows everything, even those things that man will never know.
     Now I have it! Considers the preacher. Suppose that God’s mercy were His crowning attribute! Suppose that His grace ruled all His actions above His power or His justice…. But should He be even barely less than perfectly unchanging, then He is not a firm foundation. At any moment may appear the single glitch in His mercy, and some poor soul will be mercilessly plummeted into hell. Or perhaps His truth would suffer change and many would find themselves believing in lies that were true before; but thank God that there is no shadow of turning on His dear, true face! (James 1:17)
     The preacher concludes now, realizing that no single attribute of God is better than another. He says, “None can be the most important and still leave God as God. He is beyond what I can know, yet I can know some small things about Him as He has written in His Word, and that is enough to convince me that God must be known as a combination of all of His perfect attributes. And for such a beautiful composite of virtues, He is to be praised for all that He is!”

Soli Deo Gloria