Songs in the Key of Faith

Songs in the Key of Faith

Songs in the Key of Faith: Introduction to Songs of the Bible.

Music refuses definition. Music can be described, it can be lived, it cannot be defined. Music goes too deep for that. Deeper than we can imagine and deeper than we can possibly know until heaven, where music seems to be the common language. This makes us wonder if, at creation, God didn’t merely speak the words that brought everything into existence. No, perhaps God sung those words. God filled the new universe with the new song of creation. God didn’t merely shout “Let there be light!” No, God sung those words that brought light to life. God’s first creative act, a song. Is it any wonder that at creation “the morning stars sung together and all the angels shouted for joy.” (Job 38:7).

I believe that music is in the very soul of God, it’s in the repertoire of God’s self-expression. The Trinitarian Persons undoubtedly have spent eternity singing divine love songs to each other. If somehow music is a part of God’s essence, then we humans, being made in the image of God, also have music built into our human nature. Music has been part of the creative process, in both God’s and ours, since literally Day One.

It’s not surprising then, that the Bible, both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, are full of songs… from Moses and Miriam to the heavenly angels, from the Psalms to the Song of Songs. For wherever there is self-expression, there is bound to be a song. Rabbis say that the oldest texts in the Hebrew Bible are poems/songs. Because they were sung, they were remembered more precisely through the oral tradition, and they were probably less tampered with or paraphrased down through history. So it appears that the most authentic pieces of Scripture are the songs that were sung. They were memorized more easily, preserved more accurately, and handed down with more authority.

I intend to unpack many of these songs in the Bible, discussing their author, their lyrics, their context. Perhaps by considering the songs in Scripture, we can learn to sing along with our Fathers and Mothers of the Faith and in the process understand them and the Bible better.


“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the spaces between the notes and curl my back to the loneliness.” Maya Angelou.

” Jesus Christ is the chief musician of all eternity who sings in the midst of His people.” Brian Simmons.

The end of all music should be the glory of God and the refreshment of the human spirit.” J. S. Bach.

“Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” Albert Einstein.

“Music is the silence between the notes.” Claude Debussey.

“When you arrive at Gibeah of God, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They will be playing harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre, and they will be prophesying. At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will be prophesying with them. You will be changed into a different person.” (I Samuel 10:5-6).

“All I’ve got is my red guitar, three chords, and the truth.” Bono.

“It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain, of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature.” Benjamin Britten.

“It is the stretched soul that makes music, and souls are stretched by the pull of opposites – opposite bents, tastes, yearnings, loyalties. Where there is no polarity – where energies flow smoothly in one direction – there will be much doing but no music.” Eric Hoffer.

“The two universal languages on earth are music and silence. They are also the two primary languages of heaven.” Peter Kreeft.

“When I open my eyes, I can only sigh, for what I see is contrary to my creed; and I must despise the world for not perceiving that music is a higher revelation than any wisdom or philosophy.” Beethoven.

“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!'”  Revelation 5:13.

“You don’t have a thing if it ain’t got no swing.” Duke Ellington.

“Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance.” Ezra Pound.

“They can’t kill music. God knows, they’ve tried. But music always wins. As long as there are kids coming up that have a passion. All the bean counters in the world can’t kill that.” John Hiatt.

“Then Miriam the prophetess took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them, ‘Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted…'” Exodus 15:20-21.

“Great music is that which penetrates the ear with facility and leaves the memory with difficulty. Magical music never leaves the memory.” Thomas Beechum.

“Let me write the songs of a nation, and I care not who writes the laws.” Plato.

“Suddenly, God’s angel stood among the shepherds and God’s glory blazed around them. At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises, ‘Glory to God in the heavenly heights!'” Luke 2:13.

“For every thought that strung a knot in my mind, I might go insane if it couldn’t be unstrung. But it’s not to stand naked under unknowing eyes, it’s for myself and my friends my stories are sung.” Bob Dylan.

“David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals… Four thousand musicians are to praise the Lord with the instruments I have provided for that purpose.” I Chron. 15, 22.

“After theology, I accord to music the highest place and greatest honor.” Martin Luther.

“He who sings, prays twice.” St. Augustine.

“Worship in song is a higher form of proclamation.” Benedict of Rome.

“A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.” W. H. Auden.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Nick Hornby.

“My life goes on in endless song above earth’s lamentations. I hear the real, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation. Through all the tumult and the strife I hear its music ringing. It sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?”  Traditional Irish Lyric.

cc. To Musica, a Love Sonnet (by Steve Larson):

Who designed your sound-scape wheel? Earful bliss,

As color to sight, and smoothness to touch;

For in combinations fresh, angel-kiss

Of rhythm, pitch, scale, note… simple as such.

Maestro eternal, bring echoes from Home,

Conduct the stars again, symphony King;

So ripple it out on joy’s slipstream… Come!

Lo! Mel’dy flows, harm’ny floats, soul takes wing.

Thus Hell’s darkest curse, in horr’fic fire-light:

Babel noise, clashing clamour, banging gong;

Infernal, tone deaf to love’s hot might.

Sad spirits there lost to heaven’s sweet song.

Oh! Beauteous waves of passion unbound,

Composer’s promise, a rainbow of sound.

4 Replies to “Songs in the Key of Faith”

  1. Steve, this is a masterpiece itself. Your recounting of music throughout Scripture and it’s life giving role, the incredible array of quotes AND your Love Sonnet, Musica… magnificent! Thank you!

  2. Oh Steve how this all resonates in my soul. Music is a marvelous gift from our God and a
    constant and uplifting way to thank and praise our Maker. Bless you for all your gifted writings!

  3. Yes, Steve, music is the language of heaven — and at such a time as this, it is wonderful to be reminded and encouraged — as you have done so beautifully here. I’m especially inspired by your Love Sonnet — the lines “Conduct the stars again, O Symphony King: So ripple it out on joy’s slipstream… Come! Lo! Mel’dy flows, harm’ny floats, soul takes wing.”

    May our share this link with others? We all need the blessing of this good word/song in our world right now.

  4. Steve, this is absolutely wonderful! I’m going to pass it on. I’ve often thought of the connection of music to light. And in this time of isolation, I’ve been listening to a cd study on the history of music, mainly classical. Your timing is perfect!! Thank you!