The aim of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.
Yes, I know who Bach is. This post doesn’t begin as the others did, with somebody else being shocked by my ignorance; I’m sorry if that’s why you’re reading…
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in front of a very large window, staring off at one of the bluest skies with the fluffiest clouds. Light is everywhere. You must understand, this makes for a very happy Abby. Sunny days make me come alive, and a cool, gentle breeze is icing on the cake. Ana from Frozen said it best: “The sun’s awake, so I’m awake!” My soul is rejuvenated, excited, quickened; my soul is refreshed.
Soul refreshment. I’ll venture to guess there’s not quite enough of that in your life. Summertime is wonderful, but perhaps you, like myself, find yourself caught in the tension of “Finally! A chance to relax…” and “QUICK-DO-EVERYTHING-FUN-IN-THREE-MONTHS-BEFORE-IT’S—…too late.” Vacations can be fun, but how often do we come back claiming we need a vacation from our vacation? What’s missing?
Refreshment happens when I pause, observe, and appreciate.
Pausing is the hardest part for me. It’s more than just disengaging from whatever’s happening in front of me: it’s a deliberate choice to take a minute. Sometimes that happens in the middle of a busy day or in the midst of a moment I know I’ll want to remember, but sometimes I plan for it. Stillness and rest are sacred habits I can’t live without. They are the moments in which I understand what it means to “Be still, and know that [He is] God. [He] will be exalted among the nations, [He] will be exalted in all the earth!” (Psalm 46:10). Stuff clutters me; busyness clutters me. But in the midst of that, I can be refreshed, if I choose to pause.
Bach understood that truly excellent music causes people to pause, observe, and appreciate. It provokes us to worship God fully, and it results in our refreshment. The thing about music which has become nearly extinct in our instant society is that it requires time to unfold. It’s impossible to get the full benefit of a concert apart from sitting and listening for its duration.
There have been a handful of times when a Trust Concert didn’t get off the ground as flawlessly as I had hoped or planned and I was left feeling a little disoriented by the time guests began arriving. The concert would begin (they tell you the show must go on, and that’s all well and good, but they neglect to inform you that the show will go on, whether you’re ready for it or not…) and I would eventually make it into my seat, busy and distracted. Slowly, but inevitably, I experience refreshment at the hands of skilled musicians whose music accomplish Bach’s pronouncement.
We need more of this in our lives. I need more of this in my life! I need things that will force me to slow down and be refreshed. So if you need me, I’ll be staring out the window, listening to Bach, and reading Psalm 19 with a full heart – then again, maybe you should too.
Soli Deo Gloria