Sunday School Songs, Hardcore Shows, and the Psalms
Music is a powerful vehicle for memory and expression. I remember learning the order of the books of the Bible through songs I learned in AWANA as a kid. I can still sing these songs, and many songs that I learned in Sunday School. Song lyrics like, “Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so,” or “The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, that’s the book for me!” and “Father Abraham, had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham!” are all lyrics that are tucked away, which come back at a moment’s notice, hearing the first melodic line of these songs. I also still remember the places where I learned these songs – the children’s department of the churches with their energetic and nurturing teachers. Even though I was a quiet kid growing up, these songs were a way I could let my voice be heard.
Recently, I went to a 10-year anniversary concert of one of my favorite post-hardcore bands from high school, Emery. Even though I haven’t listened to their album in years, as the music started playing, I could still sing (or scream) along to most of the lyrics. It’s a wonder to me how much music can elicit memories of lyrics and emotions of the past. Singing these songs reminded me of fun times at shows during high school, when I would sing my heart out and head-bang the night away. It’s quite interesting to see how much I remembered of those days, and I walked away from that concert, feeling almost like I was 16 again. (And then the reality hit that I’m not that young, after having to wake up early the next day for work and not getting enough sleep the night before).
Thinking about music, memory, and expression, I reflect on the Psalms and how we can use these Scriptures to meditate and remember God and His attributes. I enjoy the Psalms because of their lyrical quality, and a reason why I probably remember many of the psalms is due to their musical nature. God really knew what He was doing as He gave His people these Psalms to help them remember and reflect on who He is and what He’s done for His people. I’m also grateful for the Psalms, in showing us examples of how to express the full range of emotions to God – from jubilant celebration to desperate lament. In connecting with these emotions, they give us a way to express ourselves to God, and also remember His steadfast character in the midst of our wavering emotions. It’s good to remember God’s unfailing love, and to praise Him with song. Music is such a wonderful gift to us, one that can comfort a sorrow-filled soul, and also rejoice with a victorious cheer. In the midst of it all, we can praise God for His steadfast righteousness, justice, and love.
1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
4 For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.