31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
August 2, 2020
Psalm 100 & 150
2 Chronicles 5:11-14
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Music has many wonderful benefits that science has discovered. We don’t need science though to tell us that music is comforting, that music is inspiring, that music can calm our hearts and lift our spirits.
We know the wonderful benefits to music, including that music connects us with God. Often we think of music as the way we praise God. The hymns we sing on Sunday morning give glory to God. The psalms and other scripture passages describe the use of musical instruments to honor God.
Music is a way we praise God, and as our Bible passage from 2 Chronicles reminds us , music is also a way God connects with us.
These verses I read you detail the dedication of the newly constructed temple. Of course, music was a part of that first worship service in the temple. Music is important to worship. Music is a way we give honor and glory to God, and music is also a way God is present among us. “[W]hen the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,….the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud,…. for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:
When the song was raised, when the music was played, the whole space was filled with the glory of the Lord.
Years ago, I was at a conference at Princeton Theological Seminary when I first heard music from the Taize community in France. Taize music is characterized by simple phrases sung over and over again in a meditative fashion.
Sitting in Princeton Seminary’s chapel, surrounded by the piano playing, the voices singing, the music, I experienced God so powerfully. I experienced the whole space being filled with the glory of the Lord.
On Maundy Thursday, when we have sat at Christ’s table, when we have heard the story of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, when we have extinguished each candle, and the soloist begins to sing “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” I experience God so powerfully. I experience the whole Sanctuary being filled with the glory of the Lord.
On Christmas Eve, when the lights are turned low and the light of Christ has been passed from candle to candle throughout the Sanctuary, and the organ begins to play “Silent night, holy light, all is calm, all is bright…” I feel God so near. I feel the whole space being filled with the glory of the Lord.
For such a time as this, we need music. We need music to comfort us. We need music to soothe and inspire us, calm and motivate us. We need music to help us praise God, especially when we might not feel like we have the words to do so, and we need to remember that music is a way God is present with us. Music is a way God brings God’s glory into our lives and our world.
Through music, all kinds of music, God brings God’s glory into our lives and our world. God brings God’s glory into our lives through the comforting hymns we are singing this morning. God brings God’s glory into our lives through classical music.
God also brings God’s glory into our lives through music from other parts of the world, the African and Spanish hymns in our hymnal, the heartbeat rhythm of First Nation drum circles, the chanting of the Orthodox Christian traditions. And God brings God’s glory into our lives through modern music – through Christian singers like Amy Grant, MaryMary, MercyMe, and Lauren Day, whose song “You Say” has been playing on top 40 stations lately. In it, she sings:
You’ll have every failure God, You’ll have every victory
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh, You say I am Yours
God brings God’s glory into our lives and our world through all kinds of music – The Beatles, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, K’pop, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Frank Sinatra, The Weekend. God’s inspiration and glory are all around us. Lately, I have been very inspired by a song my sister introduced me to called “Sunday Best” by a band called Surfaces. “Feeling blessed, never stressed; Got that sunshine on my Sunday best.” Its cheery pop tune makes me feel blessed. It makes me lift my face up to God and give thanks.
And that’s what we need in such a time as this, we need all of the gifts music brings into our lives. We need peace. We need to be uplifted. We need to praise and thanks God, and remember that God’s presence, God’s glory is all around us.
For such a time as this, we need to make a joyful noise to the Lord, through music written hundreds and even thousands of years ago, through music written by other cultures and races, through music written by people right now or even made up by us.
For such a time as this, we need music – to calm us, to comfort us, to inspire us – all with the glory of the Lord.