Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Write The Songs
Music is a gift from God. All throughout scripture references to musical instruments and singing abound. Psalms 4 through 9 begin with instructions for the musical director. God, Himself sings over us Zephaniah 3:17.  Mountains and hills break out into song with trees clapping their hands in accompaniment Isaiah 55:12. According to Job the morning stars sing Job 38:7. The most influential and important birthday in world history was announced by a host of angels singing praises to God Luke 2: 13-14. Man is not the only one capable of creating music; God and creation are also in on the act.
At the fall of man, music was hijacked by satan the former archangel responsible for worship in Heaven. God, however, continually infiltrates and influences the songs we hear and sing. Not long ago, a speaker related an incident she experienced. While driving, she scanned the radio for a Christian station. A secular song came on which caught her attention; it spoke very strongly to her about God. Ecstatic, she thanked Him for the unexpected blessing. His response surprised her. “I write the songs,” He said (sorry Bruce Johnston, God beat you to it). Unsure she heard correctly she inquired, “What did You say?” God repeated, “I write the songs.” He proceeded to show her His ability to inspire and give songs to whomever He chooses. Using unusual people and circumstances is S.O.P. (Standard Operating Procedure) for God.
This resonated with me. Music is an important part of my life. Growing up I listened to the radio constantly. My brother and I amassed a collection of over one thousand 45’s and albums (I date myself). Today, throughout our home are stacks of cd’s. When I hear a song from the past I remember not only all the lyrics but also people and situations associated with it. God used music to gently woo me to Him.
In the early 70’s hippies turned their radio dial to WMMR the premier counter culture station in Philadelphia. I stayed tuned in all day long. God, operating as “El Sneaky”1 worked His way into the playlist. The Byrds sang Jesus is Just Alright With Me and Turn, Turn, Turn was lifted word for word from the book of Ecclesiastes. I knew the gods of George Harrison’s eastern mysticism were false so I substituted my own words and sang My Sweet Lord to the one true God. According to Brewer and Shipley, if one found oneself “one toke over the line”, the place to turn was Jesus and not Buddha. My mother thought the term Jesus Christ Superstar sacrilegious; I couldn’t think of any other person more deserving of the title. Eric Clapton declared,
“Everybody knows the secret. Everybody knows the score.
I have finally found a place to live, in the presence of the Lord.”
If everybody, including Mr. Clapton “knows”, then none are without excuse. Cat Steven’s beautiful rendition of Morning Has Broken found its way into my wedding ceremony. The musical Godspell produced songs based on the Gospel of Matthew. Day by Day and Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord were staples in WMMR’s rotation. I would sing along with them (to myself) with all my heart, never realizing I was prophesying my own future.
The inherent nature of country music affords God ample opportunities to get His message across. George Strait’s I Saw God Today speaks of finding Him in everyday events and people. Brooks and Dunn encourage listeners to Believe. Carrie Underwood’s Jesus Take the Wheel became a vehicle for desperate people to articulate a cry for help. I believe God not only heard those requests but also began the process of divine intervention.
Recently our nation celebrated its 236th birthday. Amid parades, cookouts, concerts and fireworks displays patriotic songs filled the air from coast to coast. Our Battle Hymn of the Republic affirms “His truth is marching on.” Lee Greenwood’s popular song Proud to be an American ends with the triumphant statement, “God bless the USA! Since its debut in 1938 Americans have unashamedly sung God Bless America.  Declaring their love for this country and the recognition of a need for God’s oversight and protection, millions of American’s have called on Him for His blessings. When God is given an open invitation, He responds.
Music is more than a gift, it is a powerful weapon. When agitated and distressed by an evil spirit, the songs from David’s harp restored peace to King Saul 1 Samuel 16:23. In times of war musical instruments (Joshua 6:1-21) and songs of praise (2 Chronicles 20:15-22) were strategic elements that attained victory over the enemy. When a sure word from God was needed, Elisha called for a harpist. The music played and the word of God flowed forth 2 Kings 3:15.
God has blessed us with music. From the sweet song of the birds to the complex and multi-dimensional score of a symphony, we are able to not only hear sounds harmoniously woven together, but also create them. These become avenues to express our deepest feelings and emotions. Through all of these, God the master songwriter, composer and creator of music expresses His love and deep affection for us. He is the one who “writes the song.”
1 In Hebrew the name of God is expressed in many compound names beginning with “El”. El Shaddai, El Elyon, El Emeth are a few examples. “El Sneaky” is a term of endearment which speaks of God’s ability to show up in the most unexpected places and ways. Needless to say, you will not find it in any Hebrew dictionary.


  1. Ok, I really like this blog entry...but give Bruce Johnston and Barry Manilow their props. While God gave them the talent to write the songs the whole world sings...He gave the same talent to Eric Clapton, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice Julia Ward Howe and while the Byrds didn't write "Turn, Turn, Turn" they sang Ecclesiastes and Cat Stevens "Morning Has Broken" well..it was your wedding march. While God gave these people the talent to do what they did; I don't think it is out of place to give them a smidgen of credit. In this day and age, it is wonderful that people still find peace, comfort and beauty in these songs. Certainly a whole lot better than what God gave some people the credit to write. Sorry, not a sermon...just a thought..(that came from Pastor Jeff at a Pentecostal Church in Fairfax, he's on the radio with infomercials here and he makes sense).

  2. Oh Mary, I cried all the way through reading this blog. I loved the intimate reference to God as "El Sneaky" and how He reaches out to us throughout our lives even when we don't realize it, especially through music. Randy & I have talked about this topic recognizing the same truth. Looking back we see God's involvement as we walked through life past. Thank you for expressing it so beautifully in your writing.