“Hey Siri, play ‘Amen’”
I have a special music playlist on my phone titled ‘Amen.’” It’s a list of songs I compiled that help me better understand who God is and who I am to God. Some of these songs fit the “spiritual/religious” genre, like “How Can I Keep from Singing?” by Enya and “Dive” by Steven Curtis Chapman. But most of the music I find theological usually has no mention of God at all and comes from what most would consider “secular” sources.
“Into the West” by Annie Lennox is a good example of this. If you are a movie junkie in general or a Lord of the Rings fan in particular, then you likely know “Into the West” as the closing song that plays over the credits of The Return of the King, the third and final movie of the LotR trilogy. Its lyrics describe the final journey a few characters take from the world of mortality to a land of immortality. Lennox’s sweet, melodic voice sings:
“Lay down your sweet and weary head;
Night is falling. You have come to journey’s end;
Sleep now, and dream of the ones who came before;
They are calling from across the distant shore.”
These lyrics give me a beautiful, comforting way of envisioning the transition of death in this world to a new life with Christ and all the saints in heaven. I can imagine the voice of God giving me permission to rest and reminding me of the Gospel Truth: that death, pain, and suffering have been swallowed up in the victory of Jesus Christ, so that we all can live in confidence and hope until we are gathered to our heavenly home in the company of the Savior and all the saints.
This is just one example of how music helps me feel closer to God. I will oftentimes queue up my ‘Amen’ playlist or tune in to one of the Christian radio stations in the car when I want to pray but struggle to put my thoughts and feelings into words. In this way, music serves a similar role in my life as scripture or worship liturgy, because it gives me language with which I can connect with God and open myself up to God’s presence and Truth. I am certainly not the first to discover the holy power of music. Even Martin Luther claimed that “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise” as one of the “fairest and most glorious gifts of God.” To be fair, I am not sure I can call “Baby Shark” or any of the current top ten pop songs “gifts from God,” but I do believe God’s Spirit can dance to life before us in the form of notes and rhythms.
What songs help you feel closer to God? What music does your heart long to hear this week?