Colossians 3:16 (NRSV)
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
Paul seemed to know that music was the universal language and also a great teaching tool. Why else would he admonish his congregation in Colossae to “Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?” The founders of our Denomination also knew the importance of hymns and singing. That must be the reason why Charles Wesley wrote over 6000 hymns. Many of his texts were set to modern tunes (mostly barroom tunes) of the day in order to reach the coal miners of Bristol during his and John Wesley’s open air preaching. The Wesley hymns gave our church its life, warmth, and heart.
I would suggest that without music God’s people would lose their heart and soul. When Robert Ingersoll the famous agnostic writer of a previous generation died, at his request, the printed funeral bulletin included this solemn statement, “There will be no singing.” I cannot imagine a funeral or any kind of worship service without music. I’ve often said that “it’s the music that makes or breaks a worship service.” Even if I’m doing a graveside service I will encourage the family to let me bring my guitar so there can be music! We need to sing. It’s the best way I know to express our faith. As someone has said, “Music is the only art that is capable of clearly expressing what we feel about God.”
Music is the universal language. It is the language of children, young people, middle aged middle, and old people. Beverly’s dad who has dementia always comes alive when there is a music presentation at the Methodist Home (Aldersgate) in Charlotte. If it is a familiar hymn, he always starts singing along. Somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind the music remains.
There’s a story about the composer, Verdi, who wrote the famous opera, Othello. It seems that there was nothing Verdi disliked more than the popular hand cranked streets organs that were popular in his day. It is said that when he died there were more than three hundred hand crank organs found stored in his basement. Evidently, he was a one man crusade to rid the world of an instrument that, to his ears, sounded out of tune most of the time. Worst of all, the organ was often played at a tired tempo because the person turning the handle was tired or bored.
One day Verdi stumbled upon an organ grinder on the street with a flea-bitten monkey holding a tin cup. As Verdi passed by, he tapped the organ grinder vigorously on the shoulder and said, “The Tempo! Pick it up, man, pick it up!” Verdi then continued down the street holding his hands over his ears.
Days later Verdi happened upon the same organ grinder, but the man had a whole new look. He was wearing a new suit. The organ was polished. The monkey was clean and looked healthy and happy. As Verdi moved closer to the unexpected scene, he saw a sign attached to the organ. It read, “Master Musician. Studied with Verdi.”
Being touched by the master teacher makes a difference. If we want to see a difference in our lives and in the lives of others then we need to be touched by the master teacher, Jesus Christ. We need to be conduits of the Master’s touch as we reach out to others. One of the best ways of communicating the Master’s touch is through music. Think about it.
See you in church this Sunday, February 4 for our Hymn sing at the 8:30 and 11:00 services.