“I will make melody with all my being”

Still more from the Bible on the arts from passages I’ve always skimmed over!  In the first verse of Psalm 108, a psalm of David, we read “I will sing and make melody with all my being!”

So singing and making melody (I suppose that would include composing) are done with “all” the artists’ “being.”  Creating a work of art takes everything that the artist is.  Imagination, yes, but also the intellect, all of the artist’s memories, beliefs, personality.

The literal rendition of those Hebrew words is “my glory.”  I suppose that would include the artist’s talents and gifts.  But the point seems to be that the creation (“I will. . .make melody”) or performance (“I will sing”) of a work of art is a holistic effort on the part of the artist, rather than the exertion of a single faculty.

Does such close reading of a text violate the Law/Gospel hermeneutic?  Not at all!  This word is Law to an artist, who is often tempted to work superficially, tossing off something just for commercial reasons, being fake, insincere, and inauthentic, imitating someone else for fashion’s sake rather than being true to oneself as an artist.

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“To you, O Lord, I will make music”

More aesthetics in the Bible, from passages that I had never noticed before:  Psalm 101, identified as “a Psalm of David,” reflects specifically on singing and making music.  It begins:

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
    to you, O Lord, I will make music.

Elsewhere, David also refers to singing and making melody “to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6; see these other places).  So the Lord is the audience of the music.  The artist is addressing not other human beings but God Himself.

[Read more…]

The good wine

I was struck by something in the Epiphany scripture reading a few Sundays ago, about Christ’s first miracle, turning the water into wine.

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroomand said to him, Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:9-10).

So there is “poor wine” and “good wine,” a difference in quality.  (Also we see that those to imbibe “freely” become less able to tell the difference.)  [Read more…]


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