From the time I was old enough to reach the pedals on the piano, music has played an important role in my life. I have always been grateful to my mother, who insisted, when I was a child, that I must get my practicing done before I could go out to play.
Music is all around us. We don’t need to be sophisticated musicians, experienced concertgoers, or amateur or professional performers to enjoy it. We just need to take time to listen.
Have you ever paused to hear the song of a bird or the rustling of breeze-blown leaves? Are you aware of the music in a mountain stream, a frog symphony at dusk, or a cricket chorus heralding to all the world that the end of summer is approaching? Do you recall the lullabies or nursery songs your mother used to sing to you? Perhaps you have wondered why soft music is played as you shop in a supermarket or wait your turn in a doctor’s office. Even the farmer has discovered that his cows are more contented and produce more milk if soothing music is played at milking time.
In many ways music has enriched my life; it has lifted me above the routine of everyday living.
Recently I was driving home, going over in my mind the events of a busy day. It was late afternoon, and the sun was just about to slip behind the western hills. The car radio was on, and I was listening to the musical setting of “The Lord’s Prayer.” As the soloist sang “And thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever,” I glanced up at the snow-capped mountain peaks in the east with the setting sun spotlighting their whiteness, and in that fleeting moment I felt a touch of the divine. I am sure I would have appreciated the beauty of God’s handiwork even without the music, but the two combined truly “washed away from my soul the dust of everyday life.” (Berthold Auerbach.)
In our mountain cabin, just a half hour’s drive from our home, I was spending a quiet morning enjoying the beauty that surrounded me. The radio was on. As a great choir began to sing a Bach cantata, I glanced out of the window and there stood a beautiful whitetail deer almost close enough for me to reach out and touch. I hardly dared breathe, for fear he would discover that I was near and would quickly bound away. But he seemed oblivious to my presence, as he quietly nibbled at the wild rye growing next to the cabin.
His coat was sleek and shining, his slender legs ended in black hoofs, his large eyes were liquid brown, and his antlers seemed to be covered with soft velvet. I had the feeling that he, too, was listening to the music, for as the final amen was sung, he gracefully lifted his head and quickly disappeared over the brow of the hill. Tears sprang to my eyes as I watched this magnificent creature in such a setting of beauty and harmony. I breathed a silent thank you to the Almighty for permitting me once again to experience a brief moment that lifted my spirit beyond the ordinary.
Throughout the ages music has inspired men with hope, given voice to their joys, kindled their love, and soothed them in times of despair. So often it affects us in ways that we find difficult to explain. At times it becomes a communication of spirit that need not be articulated to be understood and can lead us to moments when we seem to touch the infinite.
In today’s trouble-filled world, if we will but take time to listen, music can act as a stabilizer, a “balance wheel,” that oscillates against the tensions of everyday living. Through its influence our lives can be uplifted, sweetened, and refined.
“Yea, music is the Prophet’s art
Among the gifts that God hath sent,
One of the most magnificent!”
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Christus.)