The Power of Music

Have you ever thought about how different a movie would be without a soundtrack?  Watching the scenes, without musical accompaniment, would be sort of like eating  food without  flavor.   I truly enjoy  great soundtracks, however I’ve had to train my ear to hear them well.  So often, I have just taken them for granted, unaware of the mood that they are helping to produce.  We can usually know when something scary is going to happen by the music that’s playing, or when someone is falling in love by the score in the background.   I’ve come to realize the contributing role that music plays in my emotions.

If I may ‘wax philosophically’ for a moment I’ll share a quote:  “Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.” (quote attributed to Plato). (Wordsworth Dictionary of Musical Quotations, 1991, p. 45).

God’s creation exudes harmony.  To me, the wind, the waves, the streams, the birds, the thunder and the the crackling of a fire are all parts of this orchestra.

Isaiah 55:12

    You will go out in joy  and be led forth in peace;

    the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,

    and all the trees of the field  will clap their hands.

Somehow, God’s presence within us has the ability to soothe, to comfort and express love- much as a mother does when singing to her child.

Psalm 42:8

    By day the Lord directs his love,

        at night his song is with me–

        a prayer to the God of my life.

 As I read scriptures about songs I found that they were used in so many ways:

To awaken – Judges 5:12 ; to celebrate victory – Psalm 18:1; to express joy and praise – Psalm 28:7; to express love to someone – Isaiah 5:1; to alleviate fear – Isaiah 12:2; to find comfort – Isaiah 49:13; to mourn and bring down – Micah 2:4, etc.

I realize that my personal playlists of songs reflects so many of these areas.  I have greatly increased my use of music over the past year.  I find it helpful it setting my mind.  There are songs I like to wake up to…such as “What a Wonderful World”, “You Raise Me Up”, “Light Your World” (to name a few).  Some songs help me feel close to God (they are on my quiet time play list), some inspire me and help me exercise,  and then there are some (my dancing music playlist)  that help me dance through the kitchen  and laundry room.  I have some that comfort (think ”Be Still My Soul” and “Abide with Me”)…I try to stay away from dirges that bring me down (although I do have quite a long “country” playlist I enjoy).  My favorites are playing now…some nice background music (with a “fair shake” of Kenny G and Il Volo).  I like to keep these songs in the background when I’m at home.  (I rarely use earphones, as I don’t want to shut people out, which can happen when I can’t hear them)

A philosopher (some have attributed to Plato) has been quoted as saying,
“Let me handle the music for one generation and I will control Rome.”

In other words, the things we listen to, and pour into our minds affect our thoughts and actions.  It makes sense to me, in order to help “set my mind on things above”, to have playlists that agree with this desire.

Give it a try.  You may be surprised at the lift that songs bring to your heart, and the pep they put in your step!

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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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