On music, and the beauty of God: Music is one of the great loves of my life. It is easy for me to say that I have the music in me.
I listen to music while I work. My physical work, like painting a room, installing a toilet, or fixing an engine is assisted by the music I listen to. I assume that all adults enjoy listening to music while they work. I assume that children will watch and listen to many different videos on computers, tablets, smartphones; but teenagers will begin to single out what they like the most and listen to that intently, while wearing a pair of earbuds or headphones.
Teenagers have more intellectual formation than children, and teenagers also feel more deeply than children, that’s why they can be more single minded.
The average length of a pop song is 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Ambient music, or even progressive rock, can have very long songs. The length and the style of the song indicate what kind of mind or person it was made for. A music producer says, “the length of this song is too long for the average listener.”
I grew up in the 1990’s. As far as I know, “Nu Metal” was invented in the 1990’s. Nu metal was invented in the 1990’s because there was an audience for it. I mention this here because when I started reading, studying, and meditating on the New Testament of the Holy Bible, and contemplating the meaning of the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I had to think about the Gospel writers and the audience they were writing for.
Christian church music is ambient.
The music does not have to be classical or ancient for the sounds to be ambient, emotional, or contemplative. Modern worship music at the megachurch downtown is ambient, emotional, and contemplative. It fills the entire megachurch with beautiful music produced by state of the art speakers and computers. The music at an old Catholic church could be less popular, and less sophisticated than modern worship music, but both styles of music come from the same place: the beauty of God.
In my opinion, the purpose of music is to captivate us. For how long we are captivated/ engaged by the beauty of music is dependent on the person and their attention span. If God can get you to think about one thing for ten minutes, he will. There is a thing called “Eucharistic devotion.” There is a prayer service called a “holy hour” at a church near you.
If pop music averages 3 minutes and 30 seconds, and a song by Rush, or Tool, can be more than ten minutes, God would love it if you could meditate on the mysteries of faith for at least one hour per week.
Christian music itself cannot save my soul, but it can captivate my soul. Sanctifying grace is also known as habitual grace. The word “habitual” is being used because God makes our soul his dwelling place. Maybe Christians are more aware of this when they are actively listening to worship music because they are feeling it.
It is possible for the contemplative person to always be aware that God has made their soul his dwelling place or habitat, regardless of how I feel. In that way, the person with mature faith has gone from watching and listening like a wide-eyed child, to focusing on one thing and brooding like a teenager, to knowing God is literally with them. The grace that is always with us is a gift of baptism. Catholic Christians baptize infants, but infants do not have the cognitive capacity to know what is happening to them.
You can imagine that the life of the infant is all ambiance, and very little, or no understanding.
I could be a father one day. I want my children to get to that place where they can spend ten minutes contemplating the truth of one subject. Maybe they will get there because of earbuds or headphones. Everybody can get there because of music and beauty, but it will matter what kind of music you are listening to. It will matter what kind of heart and mind you have. It will matter because some music is not in unity with the will of God.
“The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” John 10:3-5
As Christians, we should be familiar with the Good Shepherd.
In particular, we should be familiar with the voice of the Good Shepherd. The Holy Bible is also known as the Word of God. Obviously, the Word has a tone expressing the Author, the writer, or the speaker’s attitude.
Christians speak to God when we pray. God speaks to us when we read the Word of God. More on that later.
As it pertains to “opening up” to a piece of music, all we have to do is listen, and we feel something. That feeling can be a like or a dislike. All music has a theme, and the theme of music will speak to our passion, or intense motions of our human appetites.
I follow Jesus Christ, the Word of God, which means I am trying to listen to him with my heart and mind, also known as my feelings and intellect. I use my ears and I use my senses. My body and my soul react to what I listen to. I can listen to something angry or sorrowful and still have the peace of Christ because I have practiced contemplation for a long time; but there will be a length of time when I say “I don’t want to listen to your sad or angry story out of alignment with the will of God because of sin anymore,” because I am a weak human being.
I discern the theme/ meaning of music, I appreciate it, and study it.
I like some music more than other music because of the morality of music, the beat, the groove, and what it is trying to accomplish. Just like I study the Word of God and what God and Church are trying to accomplish.
God and the Church is strange to the worldly, but the worldly know passion, and they know groove metal, rap, and hip hop. I can follow groove metal, rap, hip hop, and Jesus Christ, and discern the meaning and tone of all of the sounds because I practice using my ears, nose, throat, feelings, and intellect comparing what is holy, sorrowful, or angry, to what is sinful. It’s not strange to me because Christians are given supernatural grace to do this. It is also a product of emotional intelligence, and experience.