Like many people in this rather dismal month – both meteorologically and politically – I haven’t spent much time “singing for joy,” as the psalms often say. I was reminded of that by Psalm 149 this morning. In fact, each of the last five psalms in the Psalter begins with the word Alleluia! (italicized here to remind us that it is impossible to say or sing that word in a manner grumpy or dull). The line that piqued my attention read (in alternative translation) “Never stop singing, for music is power.” (vs. 6) Reading the attached commentary pushed me even further toward reflection on the power of music to lift the spirits of those who sing. Here’s what I read:
…the spiritual power of music is able to accomplish things that appear impossible to the rational mind. Music has strange effects upon the minds and hearts of human beings…Has beauty ever “cut to the heart” of your own soul? Has music ever “stricken” you so that you simply cannot remain any longer in a particular state of being or consciousness? (Ancient Songs Sung Anew)
I grew up with music and singing in my home and my church. It is an integral part of all rituals, be they weddings, funerals or holiday events. When I’m driving, if I choose to break the silence that more and more becomes important when I am alone, my choice of CD is not random; I always opt for what will be of greatest benefit to my spirit. And it isn’t just for me. I remember the effect of the “We Are the World” concert many years ago that was so powerful to so many and brought us back to global consciousness whenever we heard the theme of the event and were motivated to join the “cosmic dance,” as Thomas Merton urges us.
So today I will urge myself and everyone to “sing praise to God with timbrel and harp” so as to remember that music can be a great balm to the soul.