As Martin Luther recognised, music
soothes the soul and calms what he delightfully called “the
agitations of the mind” as nothing else can do. All of us can
remember times when songs or pieces of music transported us back to
specific times and places, hooking us into certain moods or
Blessed though we are to have access
to a wealth of recorded music, we may not always be able to locate a
piece of music that expresses precisely what we are feeling. The
great advantage of Spirit-inspired music is that we have no
pre-existing associations to distract us. We are free to track
wherever the Spirit leads.
Alex put his beliefs to the test
recently by going into a tough prison to reach men for Christ, armed
with nothing except his faith and his violin. Overcoming both his
own fears and the curious stares, something extraordinary happened
in the spirit realm as he began to play. The power of the Lord
worked through the music, making it possible for him to gain first
the prisoners’ attention, and then their respect.
The fact that Alex was a classically
trained musician and they were not did not matter because what was
going on was essentially spiritual rather than cultural.
Unless you are one of those
relatively rare people who do not respond to music, or are seriously
depressed, there is every chance that the Lord can minister to you
through this medium. If you sing or play an instrument yourself, may
I encourage you to explore the endlessly creative world of
Although I am not a skilled musician
myself, I love to sit at the piano and play as the Spirit leads for
people who come to visit. The Lord often uses the music to speak to
their hearts, and to accelerate the resolution of their inner grief.
Chords that are full of tension and slow to resolve often mirror
unresolved issues in people’s lives.
Just as discordant sounds and rhythms
symbolise extreme emotions, (confusion, fear, guilt and
hopelessness), stronger chord sequences affirm trust and hope, and
represent people’s desire to take positive steps forwards.
Improvisation can lead to a release of prayer and prophecy, and
short-circuit people’s normal defensive mechanisms, whereas more
direct questions about their feelings might lead only to embarrassed
denials. At the same time, we must be careful not to manipulate
emotions. Playing one note repeatedly against another, for example,
might release such intense feelings as to be all but overwhelming.
There is no need, however, to limit
ourselves to stereotypes. Minor keys are for much more than just
expressing sad emotions. After all, many wonderful carols and dances
have been composed in them.
Ruth Bright suggests that if we are
feeling ambivalent towards someone we are no longer in contact with,
we can express our feelings by beating a pair of Bongo drums, while
someone else plays improvised music. (She suggests Bongos because
they are less likely to remind us of musical classes at school than
certain other percussion instruments.)
||They give good tactile
feedback to the skin and muscles, but none of the sense of
using a weapon which a drumstick may give, and which is
frightening for those who are only just learning to deal
with their blocked anger.13
It is hard for some of us to
admit that we are still carrying layers of grief and anger.
The way we play the drums may tell another story, and be a
better indicator to our real state of mind.