Marriage and Music

I had the privilege of playing the music for my brother’s wedding ceremony today.

When he and my new sister-in-law first sat down to discuss what that music would be, we sought a suitable style and tone for both the occasion and their particular tastes. They wanted music that would set a worshipful and God-centered tone in the prelude (hymn arrangements ranging from traditional hymns to Getty songs), be atmospheric and beautiful during the processionals (Debussy), focus the vision of their marriage in concert with the congregation (Be Thou My Vision), and offer their new life together to God in praise (the Doxology) just before the absolutely joyful recessional (See, What a Morning!). Today, I even accidentally began the recessional during the kiss… but the result was a joyful accompaniment to the most exuberant part of the ceremony!

In some ways wedding music is a formality, something we do because that’s the tradition. But the choices we made for this wedding reveal the beautiful potential of that formality to express and shape our experience.

Why does music form such an integral part of our lives – even the lives of those who are not musicians, like my brother and sister? Why does it add meaning or adjust the emphasis of moments in our daily lives? Whence comes its power to articulate and define emotions and meaningfully attach them to verbal expression?

Somehow music appears to combine the ineffable with the articulable – and today, as my brother and new sister were wed, they were surrounded by music that hinted at the inarticulable fullness of their hearts and provided a setting to their worshipful offering of their lives before the God of the universe. I am so grateful to have been a part of it.


RE: Remembering the Mystical

I wrote this post a couple of years ago, and as I reread it, I am both encouraged to see that these ideas have continued to influence my scholarship, specifically in my own research area, and bothered by my own failure to remember in my daily life. Remembering is difficult but terribly important. That God formed the nature of music is part of the picture, but that God formed me and the whole context of my life must necessarily shape the priority I place on the study of music. However significant this art and the study of it may be, even more so is the living out of my WHOLE life, body & soul, for God’s glory.

Pictures on Silence

How do I practice music in such a way that I am treating the created world “as able to glorify God in its own way, by virtue of its own distinctive patterns, rhythms, and movements?” (Begbie, RT, 92)  This as opposed to viewing music as merely a pointer beyond itself to a Platonic ideal harmony, as dangerously earthy, emotional, nonverbal, as necessarily contained in its proper place by the clarity and purity of words and ideas.

As a theorist, I must necessarily treat music as a less-than-scientific whole.  The analytical-logical side of me longs to understand music as a science, to articulate how it works in an orderly, organized fashion, to hypothesize and experiment, to explain away its ineffableness.  And to a great extent, delving into the organized patterns that compose effective music is aesthetically and spiritually rewarding, leading to a grand appreciation of the existence of such…

View original post 280 more words

A Prayer of Praise

Inspired by my study of Isaiah 7:1-9:7 and my current struggles with pride and lack of trust.

If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all. ~ Isaiah 7:9b

The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread,
and he will be a sanctuary… ~ Isaiah 8:13-14a

O God, I am ashamed of my fear and unbelief.

How can I be afraid?

You are with your people,
more now than ever before.

How can I lack faith?

Your promises are always kept,
and even my life shows it.

O God, thank you for your act of self-sacrifice.

How can I be proud?

Your saving work is yours alone;
Your call to me effectual and sure.

How can I be anxious?

You saved my soul from eternal death;
You equip me to do your will.

O God, you are holy, beyond all praising.

How can I exalt you enough?

Your Son and Spirit exalt you,
transforming my inadequacy into exquisite melody.

Purpose & Mission

The purpose of this blog is to foster and facilitate dialogue about the integration of the Christian faith with the study and practice of music, specifically among young Christian music students and professionals – my peers.  While this aim relates to the use of music in worship, this dialogue is meant to encompass a much broader understanding of the relationship between theology and doxology on the one hand and music in its variegated use and practice throughout Western (especially American) culture, along with the arts in general.

It is unfortunately the case that many young Christian musicians view their musical development as one branch of their lives and their spiritual development as a separate branch, sustaining only a vague notion of how the two might connect.  This ambiguity often finds little clarification within the church, in part because many churches are suspicious of the arts and music, especially as vocational callings.  The dialogue about music in the church is often limited to the use of music in worship services, an area that deserves attention, albeit less divisive attention, but this hardly addresses the problems facing the aspiring Christian musician.

Recently, some theologians within the church have responded with deep insight to this problem, which faces the arts in general (see the Resources page).  It is the mission of this blog to bring this conversation to young Christian musicians, in order that we may equip ourselves with a practical theology of music and the arts, a theology that may perhaps be introduced and summarized by a quote from Philip Ryken:

As Christians, we should lead the way in reclaiming the arts and restoring them to their true purpose.  We are living in a fallen and broken world; yet for all its ugliness, this world was made by God and will be saved by his grace.  Therefore, we should devote our skill to making art for the glory of God, and for the sake of his Son – our beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ.

~ Art for God’s Sake, 58