- Music was there during creation … so how do we use it today in our churches?
Here at Worship Leader, our mission is to partner with God in his renewal of the Church through worship, and as a result we often find ourselves exploring the idea of New Song. Of course, New Song is more than finding the next big “new song” to sing in worship; it is about an encounter with Jesus Christ—it is nothing less than engaging with and announcing new creation in individual lives and across the earth.
We believe that music has a pivotal role in God’s redemption of all things. Indeed, in the book of Job, we discover that music was also part of the original creation story.
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
There exists a beautiful partnership between music and ministry. Sometimes that ministry is evangelistic outreach, sometimes it is discipleship, and sometimes it is simply the ability to pray throughout our days. Whatever it is, God has given us music to be a profound devotional art in the assistance of engaging with the New Song of Jesus Christ. Today might be the first time you have come in contact with the holy, life-reorientation of the beauty of Christ. Or it might be the 77th time. Either way, his abundance never runs dry, and we are all invited to discover anew the majestic heights of his reign and unfathomable depths of his love for us.
Music helps us voice what is in our deepest hearts, and it also forms us into what most deeply matters. It is a powerful tool that not only reflects, but it also guides our thoughts, deeds, and emotions. This is likely what Henry Longfellow was alluding to when he wrote, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” And whereas there is deep truth to the statement, music is also very particular. One person may like how certain beats hit with interesting syncopation, supported by cascading scratchy guitars. And while they are enjoying their indie sonic vibe, another person could easily find it annoying. Music is subjective. Thanks, Captain Obvious.
So how do we make use of this powerful and universal, yet very particular and potentially divisive tool that God himself used and then gave us in order to partner with him in bringing all of creation back in harmony with his everlasting kingdom? The answer is, very prayerfully.
Do we fear music? No. We fear the Lord. He created all things and all things are purposed to bring him glory. So let us honor the Creator by being faithful to him in our musical lives—in what we listen to and what we use in our ministries. Let us honor him in the way we lead others and make use of devotional music to help others come in contact with the Creator and Redeemer of all things.
I wish I could have heard that song the morning stars sang in concert with the formation of the heavens and the earth. The sound was probably overwhelming. I imagine astronomical melodies and harmony flowing in chaos-brought-to-order, and the instruments of light and dark—the seas and the mountains joining the anthemic strain. We likely won’t know what that sounded like this side of heaven, but 2 Chronicles gives a hint as to the words that might have been supported by the sound of the stars: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Truly, this is the sound of New Song, and we are invited to join the singing.
Jeremy Armstrong is the managing editor for Worship Leader magazine and Song Discovery.