One of the things I loved about my church when I first started attending it back in 2009 was the incredible music. The worship team starts playing at 9 AM, the lights go down, the lyrics appear on the screens and you can really feel the spirit moving through the sanctuary.
I remember in 2012, when I was pregnant with my tiny dancer, Vivienne, when we stepped into church on Sunday mornings with the resounding praise emanating out into the lobby and spilling onto the patio outside, she would begin to wiggle and twirl in my belly (and she hasn’t stopped dancing since). It’s always loud enough that I don’t feel self conscious about my singing voice, but not so loud that I want a set of ear plugs. Most Sundays it’s obvious that the worship team has coordinated with the pastor to back up the message in song to the point that sometimes he even uses the lyrics in the sermon.
When I first stepped into Celebrate Recovery in January of 2021, after having spent a year getting sober on my own, the worship music at the meeting knocked me out. I cried through the whole session. I couldn’t sing, I could only hold myself and weep quietly into my soggy paper mask.
Music is powerful, and I’m not just talking about modern worship music. Consider the timelessness of “It is Well With My Soul”. I wrote about the composer and background to that classic hymn here. The heart wrenching lyrics coupled with the tragic surrender of the tender melody bring tears to my eyes nearly every time I hear it.
God created music. In Job 38 verse 7 God is chastising Job in the section that begins “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” He speaks of the creation of the world, “Who laid its cornerstone—7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
The concept of the stars singing is actually backed up by science. Pythagoras famously noted the correlations between music and mathematics, and some have even posited that musical theory and quantum theory are nearly identical. Author Ethan Hein touches on this in his blog, and PBS’s Nova has explored the music and the universe theory as well. When I have a hard time understanding the infinite nature of God, I remember that numbers are infinite, and I come a little closer to grasping it.
God has even used music to win battles. The most well-known example is of course, Joshua bringing down the walls of Jericho with trumpets (or rather, shofars – a ram’s horn made into a conch-shell-like instrument). But that wasn’t the only time God involved music in His victories.
In 2 Chronicles, God delivers a victory to Juda without them even having to lift a finger. Instead, all they did was lift their voices in praise to God:
21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
We also see God using music to grant victory to Gideon in Judges 7:16-22, where Gideon and 300 men blow trumpets (shofars) and break glass jars which causes their foes to turn and attack one another.
In addition to that, one of the greatest kings of Israel, David, was himself a musician. David was a harpist, and God used David’s harp music to get him into the good graces of his predecessor, King Saul, which put him in the position of marrying Saul’s daughter and becoming one of the most important members of Saul’s court, and eventually, king himself.
There is no wonder that music causes us to get goosebumps, brings tears to our eyes, soothes and energizes us. God is still using music to win battles inside our hearts and minds.