The Power of Music

I was in the car sitting at a red light listening to the radio, when the dj said he was going to play a song that was guaranteed to make you turn up the volume and sing along. Pffft, I thought, stretching out my hand to change the channel in a fit of musical cynicism and general grumpiness. Then the first few bars of “Don’t Stop Believing” started playing…need I say more? By the time the light turned green, the volume was up to 17, and I was bellowing along with Steve Perry with the windows rolled down to generously share my joy with the world.  

The power of music. Whether you’re into Journey, jazz or Japanese koto (sorry, really hard to find j-related music!), music that hits the spot has that amazing feel-good factor.  But have you ever found yourself bopping along, fingers snapping, head nodding, and somewhere in your mind it vaguely occurs to you: I have no idea what these lyrics mean, or even what they are! 

Feeling good is fine…for as long as it lasts. 

Then there’s great music, the kind that lifts your spirits, opens your eyes, somehow brings about a change in you. Too much to expect from a song?  

When I first became a Christian, I listened almost non-stop to Keith Green.  Now here’s the thing, as I listen to it today, even I can admit that it is very dated musically, and so is he if you watch a Youtube video of him (think 70s Afro, pre-hipster, bushy beard…). But the joy and power of the Lord that shines out of his performances, his utterly contagious love of God and childlike enthusiasm makes things like musical style completely inconsequential, and I am as moved and charged by his music as I was as a Christian honeymooner.

One of my all-time favourites is his rendering of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15 where he sets the entire story to music. If you’ve a moment (12 minutes to be exact), check it out…

So many times, I’ve been encouraged, uplifted and challenged by his songs. He has them for every occasion – even those where you just don’t “feel” like it anymore…  There’s one in particular that has been playing on loop in my head recently. It’s been a tough time these past few months, and I have to say I just haven’t felt “in sync” with God. This would depress me even more, except for the fact that Keith Green, that seemingly amazing, unstoppable force, wrote the words to this song:

My eyes are dry, my faith is old

My heart is hard, my prayers are cold

And I know how I ought to be

Alive to you and dead to me


Oh what can be done with an old heart like mine

Please soften it up with oil and wine

The oil is you, you’re spirit of love

Please wash me anew in the wine of your blood

So with summer now officially on us, I hope you are all enjoying the good vibes that tunes can bring, but if not, I hope you find some great music that will bring healing.

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