For some three hundred years the stirring sounds of unaccompanied cellos sending out the sound waves of J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major have graced the lives of countless souls. The very gentle, inviting nature of the central sarabande contributes to the overall feeling consistent throughout the suite, that of warmth, resonance, and an altogether calm and friendly atmosphere.
Rank on rank the host of heaven / spreads its vanguard on the way / as the Light of light descendeth / from the realms of endless day. These lines from Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, sung with various tunes, have inspired and delighted Christian worship since 275 a.d.
The sound of marching bands thrills some to the core. One of the best in the world is the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. A world-class competitive drum and bugle corps based in Concord, California, the corps is a sixteen-time Drum Corps International world champion. They rock the musical hearts of many.
For over five decades the tunes of Bob Dylan have brought deep joy to aficionados. The vocals of someone who sounds like they ate gravel for breakfast isn’t for everyone . . . but it is for millions.
The late singer/songwriter Aretha Franklin put it this way: “Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It's transporting. It can take you right back to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It's uplifting, it's encouraging, it's strengthening.”
Music does things nothing else can. It sooths, inspires, comforts, thrills, and energizes. Philosopher Jim Holt hit the nail on the head when he wrote that “perhaps the most ringing endorsement of the goodness of the world is not literary or philosophical, but musical.”
At age thirty-eight our daughter fell to her death mountain climbing. After visiting hours at the funeral home the night before her memorial service, I put on my running gear and took off for a five-mile jaunt. The whole time I repeatedly listened to Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters. I lost two pounds of sweat and three pounds of tears, but I was comforted. And comfort was not the only benefit; the music helped initiate the healing process.
Music: a gift of life.