When I was in medical school, I used to say that if medicine were put to music, I would have no trouble memorizing any of it. There is something about music that helps me recall the text. I find this so often with old hymns that are full of scripture, or that just state biblical truths.
This was brought home to me when visiting my mother in a dementia facility around Christmas time. The activities coordinator was trying to involve the clients in singing Christmas songs. A few chimed in with Rudolph and Frosty. But when I suggested Silent Night, every single resident sang, including my mother, who couldn’t remember my name.
Having suffered from depression, I can easily find myself near despair at the state of things in this godless world in which we live. One thing that keeps me steady is remembering Who is in control. An old hymn states: “This is my Father’s world. Oh, let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” (This Is My Father’s World.) How true and comforting those words are!
Paul and Silas sang hymns at midnight while imprisoned in a Philippian jail. In more than one of his epistles, Paul encourages us to communicate with “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:16, Col. 3:16). If only I would remember to sing every time difficulties arise. Hymns and songs of worship help me set my heart and mind on “things above” (Col. 3:1-2). I defy anyone to remain sad singing the chorus of The Days of Elijah.
In her recent blog, Relationship Status, Holly wrote of how Christian music can not only help us remember God is in charge of all that is happening, but it can help us re-orient our affections and put God back in first place, where He belongs.
Ever wonder if Jesus sang? Matthew tells us that at the end of The Last Supper, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26, NIV). The Old Testament tells us [God] “will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
The Psalms are the hymnbook of the bible. Being a good Jew, Jesus likely was very familiar with the Psalms. I once heard a pastor suggest that, as Jesus hung on the cross, He began reciting to Himself from Psalm 1 onward. If that were true, we know Jesus made it at least to Psalm 22 because He quotes Psalm 22:1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. This is recorded in both Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. What an amazing thing it would be if, every time I faced adversity, or even just annoyance, I began to sing hymns and recite scripture as in the song I will sing.
What wonderful gifts are God’s Word and psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
Thank you, Lord, for the gifts of Your Word and of spiritual songs.