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The Power of Music

Music is one of the most inspirational forms of fine art. In its rhythm, melody, harmony and dynamics, its variety of sounds, shades and nuances, music transmits a never-ending gamut of feelings and sensations. Its power is contained in its ability to by-pass reason, penetrating straight into the soul, into the subconscious, and to manipulate a person's feelings. Depending on its content, music can evoke the most elevated and noble feelings, such as assisting in creating empathy for prayer - or produce quite the opposite, by arousing the most sinful and base desires.

Since time immemorial, melodious music had accompanied prayer and service to God. (Genesis 4:21, 31:27; Exodus 32:18, Judge 11:34; Ecc. 2:8). King David, was endowed by God with outstanding poetical talents and composed many inspirational prayers-psalms, accompanying them with his dulcimer. Upon his subsequent elevation as King of Israel, David introduced the singing of psalms during church services and appointed regular singers and musicians for this responsibility. Because of their great popularity, the psalms of David became an inalienable part of the church services - not only those under the Old Testament, but also carried over into the Christian Liturgy. Having been embelished (mainly by Russian composers) many psalms of David adorn our Church services. The Holy Scripture encourages tranquil singing that creates a prayerful mood. For example, Apostle James counsels: "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms." Apostle Paul gives similar advice: "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (1 Samuel 16:16-23; 2 Samuel 6:5-23, 22:1; 1 Chron.6:31; 2 Chron.29:25; James 5:13; Ephes.5:19; Col.3:16).

Contemporary medical experiments have established the beneficial influence of peaceful classical music in the recovery process of patients. This has been expressed by Dr. Clyde L. Nash Jr. a surgeon with the St. Luke Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Another doctor, Dr. Mathew H.M. Lee, director of Rusk Rehabilitation Institute at New York University Medical Center, said the following: "We've seen confirmation of music benefits in helping to avoid serious complications during illness, enhancing patients' well-being and shortening hospital stays." "Of course" says a musical therapist from Cleveland Deforia Lane, "music is not a magic, but in a hospital or at home, for young people or older ones, it can be a potent medicine that helps us all" (See "Music's Surprising Power to Heal," in Readers Digest, Aug. 1992). This article also contains other documented facts about the benefits of calm music. Several years ago, some American journals carried articles relating to experiments on the influence of music on plants. These experiments determined that peaceful music helped in the growth and development of some bushes and flowers while violent music made them wither. In Germany some farmers started to use calm music during milking. These experiments show that not only humans react to music.

The renowned philosopher Plato (427-347 BC) considered that God had implanted human beings with a propensity to create and integrate sounds not in any haphazard fashion but under the harmonious influence of the spiritual world (Ion 534D, E, Republic). Aristotle (384-322 BC) noted the importance of music in the occupation of educating children. In his "Politics," he wrote that the influence of music is so great, that its various forms and genre can be classified correspondingly to the influence on a person's character. The 6th century musician M. S. Bothius wrote: "Music is part of us, and it either ennobles or degrades our behavior" (De Institutione Musica). A.W. Tozer noted: "If you love and listen to the wrong kind of music, your inner life will wither and die" (The Closing of the American Mind, New York: Simon & Schuster, pp. 68-81).

Dr. Howard Hansen, former director of Eastmont School of Musical had his following commentary published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (ch. 99, page 317): "Music is a curiously subtle art with innumerable varying emotional connotations. It is made up of many ingredients, and according to the proportions of these components, it can be soothing or invigorating, ennobling, or vulgarizing, philosophical or orgiastic. It has powers for evil as well as for good." Music is not only a form of amusement but to a certain degree a "sermon." It is an immutable expression of the composer's outlook on life and can be a strong weapon for good or evil. God inspires composers with good intentions and through their music influences peoples' spiritual moods. Satan too endeavors to achieve this through people that have turned away from God.

Although every person has a right to maintain a personal taste in music, one should still apply sound sense when objectively evaluating musical compositions. Every Christian must have the ability to differentiate between what is chaste and what is depraved in music, as well as in films, the fine arts and literature. Frequently, a mixture of good and evil can be seen in these various branches of the Arts, while Christian convictions should give the ability to draw the line of distinction between the two. It is this religious feeling directed by the Holy Scriptures, that appears as a faithful guide for the Christian.

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