“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Music Is Revelation

I think for many of us, including myself, music brings us closer to God than almost anything else. In a way, we perceive who God is through music - his power and majesty and strength, or his beauty, or his love, or the joy and hope that he gives, or his holiness and infinite perfection, or other facets of God's character - in a unique and powerful way. We get a glimpse of what he is like. In the same way, music can give us a glimpse at the horror of evil and suffering and all that is not of God. Music is part of "what has been made" (Romans 1:20) and it is a way to see a brief shadow of "God's invisible qualities - his eternal nature and divine power." There is something really deep and beautiful in music - it can't be conveyed in words, but you know it when you hear it. Because music speaks so powerfully to me of what God is like (and yet we only get the faintest and most remote echo of the fullness of that reality), I decided to list some of my favorites (best are in bold), organized by what they mean to me.

The Great Battle:

The Victory:
The depth of the Passion, the mystery of Eden and Gethsemane, of Incarnation:
Love, beauty:
Other themes from the Great Story:
Best of all, more favorites from Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia:
And a few favorite songs by Fernando Ortega:
  • "Creation Song (Glory to the Lamb)"
  • "Lord of Eternity"
  • "Sing to Jesus"
  • "Let the Words of My Mouth"
  • "No One Else"
Each of these help me understand the Great Composer and Author a little bit more. They convey, in a limited way, his power, beauty, wisdom, mystery, and majesty, with which he has filled creation. For me they are a foretaste of the hope and joy of knowing God, and in ways they tell the story of redemption that God has written. Listening to great music, like many things, can be turned into an act of worship.


  1. Nice post! I'm right with you on soundtracks. There's a CD we use at church for the Lord's Supper a lot called Streams (various artists) that has a sort of "movie score" feel about it... The track we use most from that CD is an instrumental by The Irish Film Orchestra, Abigail.

    Nice list. I'd add the soundtrack from Gladiator to that list... I did a multimedia bit at church using a track from that one called Strength and Honor (see The Anguish of His Soul).

    And if you've not read C.S. Lewis's Transposition from The Weight of Glory, you really need to!

  2. Yes, Gladiator is a good one too, and The Last Samurai.

    I haven't read The Weight of Glory, but it is on my list of things to read along with a lot of C. S. Lewis books...

  3. Interesting topic! Yeah, music does seem to take one beyond the planar reality that we usually live in. It can mysteriously stir emotions, inspire awe, and bring up recollections.

    Just curious, do you think it is more the chords or the lyrics that create those effects? And if the music was heard in a neutral setting (such as when you are studying instead of when the evil forces are forever to be conquered), do you think the effects would be as strong. Another way of putting it, would a song's inherent meaning be transferable?

    In a way, I think dance represents one's reaction to music more.

  4. I was thinking music in general - both the chords and the lyrics. The music that inspires me the most is movie soundtrack music, but lyrics can be powerful too of course, just like good literature.

    Do you mean, would music have generally the same effects in a different setting? No, I don't think so, and a piece of music would be understood differently by different people. Still, that does not mean that music cannot carry some absolute truth to it.


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