By Pat Tharp
Recently somebody expressed to me after a night of praise and worship how blessed they were; and made the comment that we could actually save people money from not having to go to a counselor, if they would just come and sing to Jesus.
That got me thinking; music is more powerful than we realize. Music has the emotional and informational power to shape culture, countries, and kingdoms.
When Stalin took control of Russia, all composers were expected to write optimistic and patriotic music for the masses. There was no room for dissension or free thought that opposed the Soviet Union’s political and social regime.
Similarly, when Hitler took over Germany, he implemented a propaganda machine called, “The Ministry for Public Enlightenment.” This government office while working with the SS and Gestapo, enforced through the local Chamber of Commerce, conformity to Nazi doctrine and their ideological actions. All streams of music, movies, art, radio and newspapers came under the control of their authority.
The “Hitlerjugend” or “Hitler Youth” movement incorporated boys and girls into their training and indoctrination. A memo from this group records this, “Songs possess the strongest community-building power. Thus we use them deliberately at those moments when we want to waken the consciousness of being part of a community, in order to deepen the power of such an experience.”
These monsters of history and even modern musicians understand this. Bono said, “Music can change the world, because it can change people.” It was the philosopher Kant who once called music, “The quickening art.”
In a recent Huffington Post article by Linda S. Noelker, PhD, she wrote of a compelling film by Michael Rossato-Bennett called, “Alive Inside: A story of Music and Memory.” This movie chronicles the power of music to engage and enliven elderly patients who were institutionalized due to Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
By simply giving them an iPod with their favorite music from the 1940’s, 50’s “their eyes would open wide, smiles appear, and some even clap their hands or tap their feet. The music triggered wonderful memories for one resident named Henry and he actually could carry on a conversation about them afterward.” It is actually cheaper to buy an iPod than to pay for these costly drugs that are supposed to help them engaged. The YouTube videos are incredible to see.
Even the health care industry has seen the rise of what is now becoming a growing niche market called, “Music Therapy.” I once visited a mental health wing of a hospital where the patients are locked up due to severe mental and suicidal issues. I inadvertently got invited to sit in on a group session where the coordinator, with her guitar, started to sing the John Lennon song, ‘imagine’ which extolled the hope of there being “no heaven above and no hell below.” Besides being Biblically wrong, it added no value or hope to these hurting hearts. My follow up comments were not well received!
Music can be used to hurt or heal. It has the power of influence to make you cry, make you joyful, bring a quiet peace, or bring an angry rage. It all depends on “who” is wielding this tool. Contrary to some Christian’s belief that certain time signatures or musical styles are “of the devil,” and others are “of God,” there is no biblical support for certain musical styles or prohibition for or against. It’s always a matter of preference, the heart, and for the Christian it should glorify God.
But we need to remember that music, though composed by man, and often times twisted and distorted by the Devil, was created as a gift from God, the Creator of all things.
Martin Luther rightly declared, “The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God. Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.”
While this article focused on the “power of music,” next month we will look at how God uses music in the lives of His people and some scriptural examples for us to be encouraged by.
At the end of a long day, or in the middle of a trying circumstance, put some music on that will help you, focus you, and bring you to Jesus who is faithful and true!