Category Archives: Music

It Changes You

Image Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

“He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.” 
― Hannah HarringtonSaving June

I am Free, I am Unlimited and the Energy of Music

I love this song.  When I went looking for videos to share I found two very different versions and decided to share them both.  Please watch both videos, join in and sing if you like, then we will talk about them.
First the original from the Unity Hymnal.
 
Now let’s jazz it up a bit.
 
Same song, but did you feel different listening to each of them?  I did.  And I like them both, for different reasons.  The first version is the way I would sing it in a time of need.  When I needed to hear the words and let them soak in.  I also like the use of you and we for the other verses.  You are unlimited, there are no chains that bind you and yes, we are all unlimited, there are no chains that bind us.
 
But I also love the upbeat, joyful, let it all hang out version.  Don’t you believe you are free and unlimited singing that?
 
Music is a great teaching tool.  It can also give words to deepest anguish or highest joys when the words escape us.  But unfortunately music can also be used to divide us.
 
Most of us probably experienced some sort of generation gap with our parents over music, especially when we were teenagers. Unfortunately churches have also been divided over music.  During the 1980’s there was some upheaval in the religious tradition I came out of.  There were several issues involved, but one of them was music.  Specifically, contemporary “praise and worship” music versus traditional hymns.  
 
 I don’t see this as an all or none issue.  I love many different styles of music and believe it is possible to use them together in worship.  But whatever we do we need to realize that not all people experience music in the same way.  In addition to different preferences for style, type and volume of music the same piece can actually have different effects on people physically.  
 Congregational worship is an area where we need to listen to and honor the experiences of individual assembly members.  This is a good place to work on compassion, caring and learning to work together for the good of all – not just saying “majority rules” and forcing those who do not agree out.
 
For example: If the majority of your congregation is made up of people over 50 years of age who enjoy the old style of “church music” straight from the hymnal, don’t insist on having only that type of music in your meetings with no praise and worship contemporary music and then wonder why most of your younger members are drifting down the road to a different church. Or if the majority of your congregates are under thirty who love loud, fast, “Christian Rock,” consider mixing in some slower traditional music for those who’s personalities are quieter or who are needing solace. Such mixing of styles of music will bring big benefits not only in helping people worship in the way they, at that moment, need to worship, but also as a tool for the worship leaders to help guide their flocks to where they emotionally need to be at any certain time during the service.
 
Sometimes we get so caught up in the words and sounds of music we don’t notice the energy contained in it.  The energy can have an effect on us, even greater than that of the words.  Sometimes the energy level of the music helps the words soak into our being.  Have you ever listened to slow, soothing music to help you calm down?  On the other hand you may listen to something a little more lively to get you going.
 
We can use that power of music in our personal lives.  We can also use it in our churches or other worship assemblies.  We don’t want to take people from a rockin’ high energy song straight into prayer and meditation time. It simply doesn’t work. People need a little help making the transition to the more contemplative time in worship and to be able to listen to God.   I have known worship leaders who are very skilled at this.
 
So next time you listen to music enjoy the tune.  Listen to the lyrics. Maybe even sing along. But while you do this also feel the energy and notice what it is doing to your mind, body and spirit.  It might surprise you.

The Music of Life

Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

This month at Espirational.com we are exploring music.  This will be a fun month with daily quotes, blog posts, videos and and a special feature.  You won’t want to miss my interview with singer/songwriter Bill Tonnis coming up on September 15.

Whether or not you think you are a musician or even a music lover, we all go through life surrounded by music.  It is all around us!

Advertisers know music is a way to get their messages directly into the thoughts and minds of consumers.  Remember the famous “jingles” from the commercials of the 60’s and 70’s? Does “you deserve a break today” still pop up in your mind for no reason?  Do you still want to sing the “I’d like to buy the world a coke” version of “I’d like to teach the world to sing?”

Music is also used in religious services to inspire, teach and guide us to oneness with the divine.  Hymns and choruses often come to my mind and surprisingly, they are usually exactly what I need at the moment.  

Politicians even use music to try to stir people up and encourage us to vote or take other action.  Candidates now sometimes use a “theme song” that is played at their campaign rallies and other events.  Songs like The Star Spangled Banner or God Bless America have been used to unite or even divide us as Americans.

So this month is all about music I hope you will follow us at Espirational.com as we explore music.