- Religion and Philosophy
The Importance of Music to Worship
Common Denominators to Diversity
What is your favorite hymn? Do you like the beautiful and traditional hymns or do you like contemporary worship music? Have you ever listed to worship music from other world religions? If so what did you think?
The list of questions could go on forever, but all of the answers lead us to the revelation that regardless of our culture or our religious beliefs, music has been and always will be a form of worship.
Drumbeats, flutes, harps, and dance have always been important element of any worship service. Some polytheistic religions have different drumbeats for each spirit or god that is being called on during rites and rituals. The Old Testament is replete with examples of dance, music and praise. In 2 Samuel 6:12-17, we read how King David leaped and danced as the Ark of the Covenant was brought back into Jerusalem:
Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
Music is still important in the Christian church; and, now with the spread of Christianity, other cultures are finding ways to weave the traditions of their heritages with Christian worship. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak with a missionary acquaintance from Cameroon. As we were discussing Africa, we began to talk about the African church. My friend explained that the African worship service is filled with dancing and drumming. Praise and music go hand-in-hand.
If music is important to the Christian religion, it is probably even more important to the Hindu faith. Ragas, the sacred compositions for the sitar, are only to be played at certain times during the day. There are ragas for the morning and evening ragas for evening meditations as worshipers attempt to deepen their spiritual practice. Chants and mantras are also valuable components of Hindu worship.
In the Hindu culture, music is part of the soul. It is part of God. The sitar itself is the ancestor of an earlier instrument known as the Vena, a three-string instrument associated with the goddess, Sarasvati.
Music is a way of expressing emotion and joy. It enhances our life and it enhances our worship. Think about the last worship service that you attended. Did it include music? Was there a choir or a praise team?
As we read in 2 Samuel, King David not only danced but leaped for joy. If our hearts are joyful, then we too have been given the freedom to dance, sing, and make music. Worship is a celebration of the awe we feel when we are in the presence of God. Let us demonstrate that awe like people have been demonstrating for thousands of years --with music.