I’ve always had some sort of appreciation for music. My parents raised us on an eclectic mix of Patsy Cline, Louis Armstrong, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole (The Unforgettable Nat King Cole was the first CD I ever owned, given to me on my 10th birthday), and Garth Brooks. Perhaps my earliest memory is that of my father singing “Shenendoah” as he rocked me to sleep. But recently I have discovered a new depth to the power of music. Maybe this is a result of my recent attempts to simplify my life (and subsequent purging of a constant background loop of pop music and sitcoms playing on my laptop), or perhaps it stems from getting older and wiser (I’m only a couple years away from the quarter-century mark, you know). Either way, I am more and more convinced that music is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. There is good music, that which makes evident the excellent skill of the musician, and there is great music which is the result of raw talent and masterful musicianship…and then there is the music that speaks to us in a way both foreign and familiar, music so beautiful that hearers become hopeful and homesick all at once without immediately knowing for what.
The true artists, those whose ears seemed to have been attuned to the divine, are able to pry open the floorboards of Paradise enough so that those of us on earth can hear a whisper of the heavenly chorus.
That is not to say that these men are necessarily men of faith.
“Maybe the job of the artist is to see through all of this strangeness [on earth] to what really is, and that takes lots of courage, and a strong faith in the validity of the artistic vision even if there is not a conscious faith in God.”
(Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water)
The Spirit of God speaks to those who will listen. These masters of music have somehow been given an ear into God’s house, and their work is a recounting of what they have heard.
With their compositions and their crescendos and their quarter-notes, with their bows and their voices and their keys and their reeds, they proclaim truth.
Such grand music is not merely music…
It is the echoes of heaven.
It is the anthems of our homeland.
It is murmurs of our Maker’s voice.
It is the refrains from eternity’s orchestra.
It is truth translated into concertos and arias and symphonies.
That we, in this humblest of realms, are given the chance hear even the slightest foretaste of the songs of the Kingdom is grace. That we will someday be able to sit in the concert halls of heaven is a mercy most incredible.
Oh, what a joy that shall be.