I believe it was Martin Luther that once noted that, after theology, singing has the most important and influential place in the life of the Christian. As a cultural expression, music has always been an accurate expression of the where our hearts and minds are fixed – the feelings and thoughts controlling the “hidden springs” and “under currents” of our souls.
Music can be a way to express beauty, frustration, pain, joy, worship or a journey. The unique aspect of that for the Christian is that such expressions are ultimately and intimately tied to Who God is and has expressed Himself to be in His Word and, to a lesser though profoundly important degree, nature. It is the formulation of what He has made and who we are in the light of Who He is, what He has promised, and on the basis of His power.
I find it uniquely refreshing that I can be honest with the Lord in my singing. I can confess my sins. I can acknowledge that God is holy and I am not. I can also acknowledge that Jesus is the only way to bridge the infamous philosophical gap of getting from what is to what ought to be. I can acknowledge God’s glorious plan of taking me from a place of brokenness and uncleanness to a place of restoration and spotless righteousness. I can rejoice that something so simple as “Today, you will be with me in paradise” rests upon the almighty purpose and person of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
I love to sing, and to listen to singing, about many things. A love of home, hearth, nation, family, nature, and rural life is often found in my playlists. They are the things the move closest to the circles of my heart and the “wonderfully good ruts” of life, not the bad kind of ruts that are just “a grave with the ends knocked out”.
Ultimately, our singing reflects our greatest objects of affection, our surest places of “center rest”, and our foundation for hope, joy and meaning. Singing therefore, for the child of God, is a legitimate way to “research” the good gifts of God in common life. But above all, and at its highest expression, it brings us into the living room of God’s family where we cry out with the Church triumphant “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”.
And that, friends, makes all the other “lesser” songs of life full of meaning, richness and value.