My husband and I went to a piano concert at the church this weekend, and I pondered how much comfort music brings to me. I think it brings a lot of comfort to many people, both able-bodied and disabled. Bishop Peggy Johnson even wrote about it in her book, The Church and People With Disabilities: Awareness, Accessibility, and Advocacy:
“. . . it was ‘love at first sight’ the first time I saw a choir of Deaf people signing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ at a session of annual conference. I was working as a vocal music teacher in the Baltimore County school system at the time. I was mesmerized by the graceful motions of the words and marveled at the power of the music performed by the hands and arms of people who could not hear it.”
Deaf choirs have become more common, and more appreciated, as they interpret music through American Sign Language. And they do more than “sign” the lyrics. They express the emotion of the music, as well.
I have a sweatshirt that reads: Bach gave us God’s Word. Mozart gave us God’s laughter. Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us Music that we might pray without words.” I wear it because it expresses how much I love music, and some of the composers I enjoy.
During Friday’s concert we were treated to hymns, and original compositions, and other secular music. A piece entitled “Dakota Rose” helped me envision the high desert we left for the coast where we live now. Another named “Hot Air Balloon” made me smile as I pictured a balloon floating with the wind, and I thought of our Thai exchange student son enjoying his hot air balloon ride when he lived with us. “Be Thou My Vision,” one of my favorite hymns, was played so beautifully it moved me beyond words as I pictured God in my life guiding me in the way I should go. That is how I see God as my vision.
Small wonder that so many of us find such comfort in music. It can inspire us, soothe us, charm us. Even the nonsense songs I make up and sing to my dogs serve a purpose; Kirby, the younger dog calms down and quits whining when he hears “I’m a Baby Monkey.”
I have learned of the American Music Therapy Association, which works with persons with Parkinson’s Disease to increase motor function, older adults to reduce the effects of dementia, children with autism to increase communication, premature infants to improve sleep patterns and improve weight gain, children and adults to reduce asthma episodes, and hospitalized patients to reduce pain. Music is indeed a gift from God!
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song. Psalm 95:1-2
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of music. Amen