Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing;
Know ye that the Lord he is God: It is he that hath made us and not we ourselves;
We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise,
Be thankful unto him and bless his name.
For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting,
and his truth endureth to all the generations.
— Psalm 100
Music has always been part of my life. In my childhood, there were Community Concerts in my hometown, Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Later, I sang in the choir at the Episcopal church. The Methodist hymnal is familiar because I also attended the Methodist Church with my paternal grandmother. Summer camp for 7 years introduced me to gospel music which I have grown to love even more in the past 10 years.
I studied music therapy in the training to be a counselor and therapist. Music can help to lower one’s blood pressure and heart rate. In working with those affected by addiction, I used a film from PBS and Bill Moyers which tells the story of the hymn Amazing Grace and the man who wrote it, John Newton. He had a spiritual awakening due to a prayer he had said during a storm at sea. Because he survived, he changed his ways from being a slave trader sea captain to a believer in God. The film goes on to show how Amazing Grace has influenced people all over the world. It is a powerful example of how great words of redemption with a haunting melody can stir one’s soul to heal.
Recently at Epworth Villa, I have joined the choir and received so much pleasure from the hymns we sing. Our choir director, Ginger, reminds us that we are singing a prayer. Those tunes and words play in my mind all week long. Thursdays at 3:30 in Brill Chapel the Vespers service is so precious. It lifts me up in Spirit. Thanks be to God for music!