Dr. Cheryl Wilson-Bridges - Pastor for Worship

Dr. Cheryl Wilson-Bridges – Pastor for Worship

It felt like a dream. My eyes were closed, my body swayed, then my hands rose effortlessly to conduct the melodious music. I was completely enraptured by the wondrous sound. I was seated in the Verizon Center in Washington DC, only five rows from the floor section listening to the angelic voice of “the fourth tenor,” Andrea Bocelli. Bocelli has emerged as one of the most popular voices in the arena of light classical music. He has recorded albums in pop, classical and opera music, selling over 80 million records worldwide. His voice has a majestic, ethereal quality that can transport his listeners into heavenly rhapsody. At least that is how I felt and thousands others that filled the Verizon Center that evening. Clearly I am an Andrea Bocelli fan. Yet my musical dream could easily be another person’s nightmare.

If you speak to a person who dislikes classical music, when they hear Andrea Bocelli they are likely to express a very different opinion. The music I consider heavenly they will consider horrible! The songs that allow me to express pure feelings of majestic serenity can cause someone else to feel frustration, even a sense of mayhem. Although I am referring to secular songs, the same hold true for sacred songs. Music that makes one person feel sanctified can cause another to feel sinful.

Why do our opinions on music differ so vastly? How can this be when God created music for His praise? The Bible has plenty to say about music. Kenneth Osbeck writer of the book, The Ministry of Music, pinpoints the significance of music throughout Scripture. He says, “Altogether, the words music, musicians, musical instruments, song, singers, and singing appear 575 times in the complete Bible. References to music are found in forty-four of the sixty-six books in the Bible. One entire book, the Book of Psalms, containing 150 chapters is believe to have been in its original form a book of songs.”1 The Book of Psalms, the longest book in the Bible, is God’s hymnal. The lyrics are devoted to exalting God. So what message does the Book of Psalms send us about the majesty or the mayhem of music?

David says that God inhabits praise (Ps. 22:3). What God inhabits reflects His character. We know that one of God’s foremost characteristics is love (1 Jn. 4:8). The Ten Commandments (Ex. 20), which reveals God character, can be summarized as love to God and love to man (Mk.12: 29-31). Also God’s character is revealed through the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). The Psalm teaches us that lyrics that extol God can be accompanied by music that elicits emotions that reflect God. In other words, our song lyrics that enable us to think about God should produce heartfelt emotions that enable us to feel the Spirit of God.

Songs that accomplish this goal will create a joyful sound. These selections are not based on style but on the substance of the Scripture. When we give God praise our songs give Him pleasure. When we engage with God through the Holy Spirit, this communion enables us to experience a taste of heaven. How can we apply this Biblical principle about praise to our sacred music today? Stay tuned for next week’s E-newsletter!

1Cheryl Wilson-Bridges, Levite Praise: God’s Biblical Design for Praise and Worship, (Lake Mary: FL: Creation House Publishing, 2009), 95.

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4 Responses to The Wonder of Worship: Music–Majesty or Mayhem?

  1. Very good, wise and true. This however, is not Rocket Science.

    • Hello Kelly:

      It is good to hear from you. Yes you are correct, it is not rocket science but somehow so elusive to those of us who serve in music and praise. I pray that this “simple truth” will become the pathway to our offering of praise and worship always. Please send my regards to my friends in England.

  2. Thelma Barnes says:

    Pastor Cheryl,
    Your comments reminded me of Saul and how he used David’s harp playing to calm his anxieties.Music today can do so many things to help us calm down,to elevate our thoughts and focus on the beauty that’s all around us,but,most importantly,help us to praise and thank God for who He is and what He has done,is doing ,and all that He has in mind for us.Sometimes,the music is a sermon itself.Thank God for many types of music that lift Him up and draw us closer to Him and to each other.Praise God for you and the wisdom that He shares with you! May His Favor and Praise continually be with you.

  3. Dear Thelma:

    Thank you for your insightful and encouraging comments. Yes, music is certainly a form of praise that pleases God. He enjoys it so much that it continues eternally in heaven. So it is critical that we make God the focus of our praise music and not praise music our god. There is so much to learn for all of us. I praise God for whatever knowledge He has given to me and many others. May God continue to bless you and show you His will and ways.

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