Biblical Womanhood,  Daughterhood,  Musings

music down in my soul

I sang a song with a choir last year that went something like this:

 “I’ve got this music down in my soul, and it fills my heart with joy of the Lord,
I’ve got this music down in my soul, and it fills my heart with the joy of the Lord.
I’ve got it, joy everlasting.
I’ve got it, peace everlasting.
I’ve got it, love everlasting.
Joy in my heart, oh yes I’ve got joy in my heart,
joy today.” 

Stop and think for a minute about the power music has over us. It can fill us with joy or with despair, it can fill our minds and lift our thoughts heavenward, or it can cause our thoughts to be sensual and lustful.

The things we listen to are more powerful than we can think or imagine. We are exhorted in Philippians to think only on things that are lovely, full of praise, full with virtue, full of honesty and truth and just. And lest you argue that we don’t dwell on music, we just sing it and listen to it — think about the songs that you hum random snatches of throughout the day. Consciously or not, you are dwelling on the things you sing about.

Really think about music for a minute — do you realize just how bombarded and surrounded we are by music? We can hardly walk into a store without some type of musical something being played in the background. The same goes for restaurants. In the car or at home, we can somewhat control the music we listen to — but almost all day, every day we are surrounded by music.

Maybe it’s just me, because I’m kinda musically minded, but after I’ve heard a song a handful of times, be it in a store, on the radio, or from a ringtone, I can recognize the tune. Maybe not the words, but I’ll hum along to the tune. And pretty soon, snatches of words follow. And this subconscious exposure to music should make us even more careful and particular about the music we choose to listen to.

Music is a wonderful tool for memorization. Ever notice that you can remember the song that you hear that you haven’t heard for years, but you have trouble remembering what you read in the scripture this morning? Music makes things stick, it helps us remember. As long as we are remembering the good things, the things the Bible exhorts us to dwell on, that’s wonderful! Music can be used to memorize scripture (The Corner Room is amazing!), and recently a friend shared catechism questions set to music, which has been a huge help for the children. But we can memorize the wrong things, too.

Do you realize what a danger music can be, how detrimental it can be for our souls? At the same time, it can lift us up to heights of glory and encourage us to continue on the good fight.

Recently there was a catastrophic event that happened in our family, and before I knew it, I was singing snatches of a song in my head:

Christ the sure and steady anchor  in the fury of the storm,
When the winds of doubt blow through me and my sails have all been torn.
In the suffering, in the sorrow, when my sinking hopes are few,
I will hold fast to the anchor, it shall never be removed.

Christ the sure and steady anchor, while the tempest rages on,
When temptation claims the battle and it seems the night has won.
Deeper still then goes the anchor, though I justly stand accused,
I will hold fast to the anchor, it shall never be removed.

Christ the sure and steady anchor through the floods of unbelief,
Hopeless, somehow, o my soul now, lift your eyes to calvary.
This my ballast of assurance, see His love forever proved,
I will hold fast to the anchor, it shall never be removed. 

Christ the sure and steady anchor, as we face the waves of death,
When these trials give way to glory, and we draw our final breath.
We will cross that great horizon, clouds behind and life secure,
And the calm will be the better, for the storms which we endured.

Christ the sure of our salvation, ever faithful, ever true! 
We will hold fast to the anchor, it will never be removed. 

This song is one that my sisters and I have been singing constantly, and it has been a huge blessing! Music is something that ministers to our very souls, in a unique way — the songs we hod onto during times of trial, or during times of joyful happiness, are songs that we will most likely remember our whole lives.

I can still remember the song that was a comfort to me when my family was facing a baby in the NICU and two brain surgeries — How Firm a Foundation is still, eight years later, a favourite hymn of mine. “when through the deep waters I call Thee to go, the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow, for I will be with you, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to you thy deepest distress . . . ” When the tornado ripped through the valley so many years ago, leaving destruction in it’s wake, I was singing, “Jesus guide me through the tempest, keep my spirit staid and sure, and when the midnight meets the morning, let me love You even more. May this journey bring a blessing, may I rise on wings of faith, and at the end of my hearts testing, with Your likeness let me wake.” 

Music can have a powerful influence over our lives, and as believers in Christ, we must be especially careful of what we listen to. If we are listening to songs that glorify drunkenness, lewd behavior, and unchaste thoughts, we should reevaluate. There are songs — marketed as contemporary Christian — that promote depression, “finding ourselves”, and rebelling against our parents and other authority figures.

We need to be careful about the genre of music, as well. I was born and raised in the South — I like a variety of music. Sophisticated instrumentals and classical music, homey and welcoming bluegrass and folk songs, hymns and southern gospel and good ol’ spirituals, a very few of the good old classic country songs. I like the music from the 1950’s, the music from WW2, and the music from the War Between the States. And, to be honest, normally my attention is caught more by the beat of the music than the actual word themselves. Only when I start humming along do I realize that the words are definitely NOT something I want to be focusing on. To be honest, most music, no matter the genre, is full of sensuality and breaking up and impure situations between guys and girls. The evil and wickedness of this world is oftentimes glorified and idolized, and made to look fun and exciting, when it is anything but.

Have you ever looked up the lyrics to your favourite song? Read through them without the distracting beat and instruments?

Oftentimes this reveals the ideologies found within the song itself. There’s many, many songs that seem to be good on the surface level, but when you look them up, read the words, you might just realize they aren’t worth listening to.

I heard a song this past week that I have already fallen in love with. It speaks to the same situation as I mentioned above, but in a different manner:

Still, my soul be still, and do not fear,
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow.
God is at your side, no longer dread
The fires of unexpected sorrow.
God, you are my God,
and I will trust in you and not be shaken. 
Lord of peace renew, a steadfast spirit within me,
To rest in you alone. 

Still, my soul be still, do not be moved,
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows.
Hold onto his ways with shield of faith
Against temptations flaming arrows. 
God, you are my God,
and I will trust in you and not be shaken. 
Lord of peace renew, a steadfast spirit within me,
To rest in you alone. 

Still, my soul be still, do not forsake
The truth you learned in the beginning.
Wait upon the Lord, and hope will rise
As stars appear when day is dimming.
God, you are my God,
and I will trust in you and not be shaken. 
Lord of peace renew, a steadfast spirit within me,
To rest in you alone. 

Music is a sensitive, controversial topic — as I well know :D What is your take on it? How do you determine what you do and do not listen to? What music is down in your soul?

May we be always reforming!

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I am a 23 year old young lady who is redeemed and saved from my sin only by the grace of God. A bibliophile at heart with a love of history who desires to see the Word of God practically applied to all aspects of our daily lives -- in our homes, in the grocery store, in the political realm. I strive to put my jumbled, chaotic thoughts down onto paper -- reducing them into black and white rows, letters, sentences. Into some semblance of sanity. And I share them here with all of you, where I can challenge you, make you think, and cause you to ask questions. I am the oldest of eleven children living the country life in the deep south.

11 Comments

  • Leona

    Yes, the words to songs are powerful… but it’s really the style/beat behind CCM/rock that is a huge issue as well– even the musicians don’t try to hide the agendas they are pushing!! I try to stay away from those genres, and usually stick to hymns/classical music– even the country/bluegrass style I’m not sure about, although I don’t have a good explanation for why not. (I’ve noticed that often the style of such songs is similar to music I hear playing in stores, in my opinion– but that’s something I’m still mulling over and trying to decide on.) Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this powerful topic and starting this discussion!

    • Kaitlyn S.

      Yes! The style and beat of music can have a HUGE influence!! Thank you for pointing that out. I have noticed where many CCM groups copy the modern style of music — the only thing I can think of is because that is what is selling, and they know it must appeal to us in some way.

  • Jonathan Character

    I haven’t ever heard of “music down in my soul” before … interesting composition!

    Here are some things I look for with music, and these have been developed over a couple years of reflecting:

    1) Are the lyrics God-honoring? Or are glorifying things with not praise directed toward God?
    2) Is the music chaotic or orderly? God is a God of order
    3) Is the music dark? God is the God of light and despises darkness?
    4) Does the music create feelings of melancholy or joy? Depression is a result of sin.
    5) Is the music with purpose? God’s purpose is for us to serve and honor him.
    6) “Could God say “amen” to it?”

    I am the same way about a tune catching me; although I can block out a lot I do find myself subconsciously listening to things (talk radio, music, etc). So to your point, it effects us without us knowing very often.

    “Still, my soul be still” and “Christ the sure and steady anchor” are best experienced and appreciated while singing with several thousand full hearts of gratitude toward the Lord. ;)

    Question to all commenters: what is it about Christmas music that makes it special? Even in the pagan culture?

    • Kaitlyn S.

      Yes! You summed it up perfectly! One more thing I generally ask myself is, “Would I play this in front of my parents?”

      Christmas music: this is an interesting thought, that I can’t say I’ve ever considered before. It’s definitely a big influence in our culture. I’ve noticed over the years a trend towards secular Christmas music, but even those who identify as Atheist enjoy the good, old fashioned carols that have been sung for years, that embody the spirit of the Christmas season — and clearly point towards Jesus Christ. I’m definitely going to have to muse on that one some more, Jonathan!

  • Rachel Taylor

    I agree with everything you said. There are so many hymns that come to mind in various situations. I’m careful what I listen to because I memorize words easily when they’re set to music. The words of a song matter to me first of all. The music only enhances the good or evil in the lyrics. Thank you for writing about this.

    • Kaitlyn S.

      I don’t know what it is about music the helps memorization, but there’s definitely something there! It is so much easier to memorize scripture if I listen to it set to music, then to just read it. Thank you for sharing!!

  • momofmany

    As I am now older I realize that it is so very true : music defines us. We begin to identify with the music we listen to, whether it is a “romantic” idea, rebellion – it defines our activities: a birthday party, a roller skating rink, a church service. “Be careful little ears what you hear…………” a children’s song & yet FULL of very good truths. If we are listening to music that is world focused, focusing on rebellion & self satisfaction THAT WILL BEGIN TO DEFINE US. As representatives of Christ to those around us we MUST not carelessly listen to, tap to, or drum to the rhythms ignoring the message behind the words. There was a time when I didn’t believe this was true. If you ask any “older” person if they can remember songs from their growing years – they will likely admit (ashamedly) that they can. In a world where music is ALL AROUND us: grocery stores, pharmacies, at restaurants, in the shopping malls it becomes more challenging to guard our ears (& ultimately our hearts) but we must take that warning seriously – let’s be FAITHFUL to be careful what we fill our ears with & live to bring glory to God.

  • Kassie

    I love this!! Music really is powerful and while that means we have to be all the more careful about it, it really does make it all that more amazing. We listen to mostly country and bluegrass-gospel, so the music itself is pretty consistent across the board (unless you get into the newer rowdy stuff which, c’mon, isn’t *really* country), it’s the lyrics you have to be careful with…but there’s a lot of good country and bluegrass songs out there. There’s a few contemporary songs I like, but…like, five, and they’re all Casting Crowns and MercyMe. The old hymns set a standard the modern “7-11” songs just can’t compare with.

    • Kaitlyn S.

      Most newer songs should not be classified as country — I agree wholeheartedly!! I’m less inclined to listen to contemporary songs, personally. I do like Casting Crowns, though. And one or two MercyMe songs . . . but I mainly stick with hymns. I mean, when I sit down at the piano, I definitely can do much more with a hymnal than with the popular praise and worship songs! There’s something majestic about the hymns that definitely points you to Christ!

What are your thoughts?

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