Music, Emotions, and Faith

What makes a movie scary or sad? The music behind the actions helps us understand what we should be feeling. Music can emotionally direct you to feel in many different ways. This is great for in the car or at the movies, but what about church? Why do we sing in church? 

Music in Times of Sorrow and Joy 

When I think of the role of music and emotion in the Christian life, I am reminded of my own experience with the passing of my grandpa. Halfway through my high school years, he passed away after fighting hard against cancer.

On the day of his funeral, we sang “Beautiful Savior” (LSB 537) around his gravesite. To be there, in the clouds and rain, surrounded by my family, listening to my grandpas sons sing in perfect harmony, with a surprising amount of vehemence, was beautiful.

Maybe youve had a similar experience; a certain hymn or song struck you at just the right moment, reminding you of Gods steadfast love. 

Now, when I hear the opening lines of this hymn, I feel sorrow because I miss my grandpa. He was an important figure in my life, and years later, I still feel his absence. However, with that sorrow comes joy.

The second stanza says, Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, He makes our sorrwing spirit sing.Im reminded that even when faced with death, Jesus paid the ultimate price, and for that, my sorrowing spirit can sing with fervor along with my father and uncles. 

Music in the Life of a Christian

God has blessed us with the ability to feel, but faith is not just feeling. Whats the proper place of emotions in the life of a Christian? Music rooted in Gods Word can be used to help us to express the many emotions we feel as we pray, praise, and give thanks to God. 

Hymns in Lutheran Service Book are often built on prayers from Scripture. The liturgy is full of Bible passages that can be used as prayer and song during church or at home. When we sing them, we are reminded of Gods promises.

Music in the Bible

People of the Bible used music as a tool to pray and an outlet for the whole spectrum of human emotion. David wrote psalm after psalm to express to God his feelings of thankfulness, fear, anger, and complete anguish. Solomon and the tribes of Israel broke into song after putting the Ark in the temple (2 Chronicles 5:12–13). Mary, when visiting Elizabeth, offered the Lord a beautiful song of praise (Luke 1:46–55). Paul and Silas shouted songs of praise to God while they were in prison (Acts 16:25). The Book of Revelation is full of songs of praise to God for what He has done.

By looking at our biblical ancestors, we see one powerful way to worship: music. God has given us many talents and gifts, one of which is music. We can use music to spread the Gospel to those unaware of Gods great love. 

Music in the Church

Music sounds nice. Its good background noise. But its also much more. It helps us emotionally and spiritually, giving shape to our feelings and guiding how we can worship God

Why have music during a church service? Because music fills a void that our words wont. What we cannot always say, we can sing. Music, based on Gods Word, brings a congregation together and enables them to pray, praise, and give thanks to God in a powerful way.

As Paul writes in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Lets use music for more than just sound. Lets bring music into our lives, at home and in church, and use it to speak to our heavenly Father at all times, for all things. 

Hymn text: Lutheran Service Book © 2006
Scripture: ESV®

Need help understanding and using music as prayer and praise?
Lutheran Service Book is a great resource for daily devotion. 

Check out Lutheran Service Book

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Written by

Rachel Gonzalez

Rachel was an intern at Concordia Publishing House. She graduated from Concordia University, Ann Arbor, in May 2017 with a degree in English. She and her husband live at Concordia Seminary, where he is taking classes. Rachel loves reading Russian classics, going to the zoo to admire the elephants, and watching her baby betta, Belle, thrive.

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