At one time music was classed based. Only the rich could see Opera, or hear and Orchestra. Whereas it was the working class who had folk music. Thus music could be quite divisive. But with the advent of recorded music, all genres have become accessible to everyone. This isn’t to say music can’t be used divisively (just look at most national anthems!), but there is something more democratic about music, even more so now with internet making vast amounts of music available without having to buy whole albums.

You can hardly move in the modern western world without being confronted with some music, whether it’s Pan Pipes play Simon and Garfunkel in a lift, or the radio at work, or the busker on the street.

Since music is so prevalent, and as we shall see has a very important role to play in human society, how are we to engage with music as Christians?

Songs as Narrative/Story

As with a good film a good song is going to tell a good story but of course… with a good tune!

Songs are so varied. Of course there are so many Silly Love Songs about, but songs go further than that. They can make you:

Laugh – Beautiful Ladies by the British comic and musician Bill Bailey
Cry – O My Sweet Carolina by Ryan Adams
Get pumped up – Three Lions (for us brits anyway!)

No Song is a Neutral Song

It should be noted that as art songs not only tell a story but they do something to the hearer as well.

Matrix Revolutions
In Matrix Revolutions there is a great speech by Morpheus as he prepares the human for the machine onslaught that is going to take place. However, whereas this might have been followed in older films by people taking up arms, preparing themselves with a steely look to defend humanity, these people have a rave. It is a very powerful scene expressing the modern western approach to life and issues – self-indulgent, mindless/mind losing movement and music that takes you away from the problems. The music expresses where the people want to be, but also takes them to that place.

One also has to be careful about the link between music and the words. While the music may be stirring and in one context very helpful, with the addition of words they can becomes something entirely different – take the Nazi national anthem – Deutschland Uber Allers (Germany rules over all) which is sung to a tune that is used in some churches now as they sing about God.