Scripture: Psalm 150
Jill A. Kirchner-Rose, MDIV, DMIN
August 27, 2017
Last month, Karen, Daniella and I visited a most fascinating place in Phoenix, Arizona – the Musical Instrument Museum. Home of 10,000 musical instruments from around the world. Raw materials stretched, hollowed, carved, pinned, bent, formed, shaped, sewn, wittled, strung, nailed and reinforced. The raw ingenuity of shaping instruments is found in every people and place on the planet. It is as innate as if we understand on some inarticulate level that if we do not feed the soul with music some portion of us will starve. Music is the glue that fastens us together as a human race. Music knows neither gender nor creed. It is not bound by either age or income. It satisfies the rich and powerful as perfectly as the common people. Its rhythm adds heat to the lover’s embrace. It comforts in times of despair. It soothes trembling minds. It brings praise to our Creator! Music is the language of the soul. (A description of the Musical Instrument Museum from its introductory film, “Music is the Language of the Soul”)
The first bone to develop in the human fetus is the ear bone. Likewise, the first sense to develop in the fetus is hearing. Moreover, hearing is the last sense to go when we die.
According to all major spiritual and religious texts the universe was created and brought forth into form through sound. Th Upanishads, the oldest spiritual text on our planet (10,000 years older than the Bible), actually translates into “The Last Song”. The Hindu Bhagavad-Gita (3,000 years older than the Bible) translates into “Celestial Song”. Hindus says that the sound “OM” is the creative energy used to bring the universe into existence. Egyptian religious texts state that the Singing Sun created the world with its cry of light. And the Christian sacred text declares that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). One Biblical translation of “Word” in this text is “Primary Harmony” (Robertson, S., “Music’s Divine Healing Power”, ProgressiveChristianity.org, June 23, 2017).
Spiritually, music can attune us to the Cosmic Vibration. Take the Didgeridoo, for example – used by Australian Aborigines in songs and ceremonies for over 40,000 years. It is believed by some that the didgeridoo is a key tool in the creation of the world and invented directly by the gods. The didgeridoo is an instrument that produces low frequency sound that we can hear and actual vibrations that we can feel if placed close to the body, creating soothing and healing emotions. A sense of well being (Gavin plays didgeridoo).
Tingshas can be found in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Tingshas are a pair of small cymbals connect by a strap – often used to call the people to worship. Tingshas are used for clearing negative energies and are used in Feng Shui to clear the energy present in a room. We play the tingsha in the four directions of the earth. (Gavin plays tingshas).
Also, in the Tibetan culture are singing bowls used by monks for prayer, meditation, healing. The vibrations of each bowl are unique and soothe the soul for connection to the Holy. The special sounds they make work with human brainwaves in creating peace. The listener gradually loses an awareness of time and place and begins living in the sound emanating from the bowl. (Gavin plays singing bowl.)
In ancient times it was the drum that summoned the gods of the universe. The beat of the drum pushes through emotions and intellect, connecting our heartbeats to the heartbeat of creation, to all life. We feel the drum in our deepest core. (Gavin plays drum.)
The flute is one of the most mystical instruments available to people. For generations, shamans, healers, and medicine men used the flute for purposes of healing. Relaxation for the mind, reducing the heart rate, connecting us to the heart where peace itself resides. The wind that moves through the flute is like the breath of God flowing through our spirits so that are hearts may be transformed. (Gavin plays flute.)
Thank you, Gavin, for gathering the Spirits of every culture from East to West and connecting us to the Holy Presence of God present with us here in this sanctuary today.
In the Bible, there are over 1150 verses that refer to the significance of music. The book of Psalms found right in the center of the Bible was Israel’s hymnbook. In Psalm 150, we read that music plays an essential role in the praise of God. “Praise God with trumpet sound; praise God with lute and harp; Praise God with tambourine and dance; Praise God with strings and pipes! Praise God with clanging cymbals, with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!”
These are fitting instruments to use today in our worship as we give immense thanks to God for your generosity, for monies raised for the building campaign. In the book of Ezra we read that after the Israelites returned from captivity in Babylon, they got to work on building the temple. While the Israelites were in captivity for 70 years in Babylon, they hung their harps on the willows and cried, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” But as soon as they returned back to Israel, they picked up their musical instruments to praise God. Ezra 3:10 says, “And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple, the priests played the trumpets and cymbals to praise God, just as King David had instructed.”
Instruments were played when the foundation was laid. Your generous gifts enable the laying of the foundation of our future building. Appropriate that we lift up trumpet sound. The trumpet is one of the most prominent instruments in scripture. In Joshua, the massive walls of Jericho fell down flat at the sound of the trumpet blast. In 1 Corinthians, we hear that the dead, who are insensible to all else, will hear the trumpet sound and be raised to new life.” In Leviticus, the trumpet proclaimed the advent of the glad festivals such as Jubilee. In II Chronicles, the dedication of Solomon’s Temple was celebrated with 120 priests playing the trumpet. The trumpet is an instrument of great fanfare! (Steve to play trumpet.)
“Praise God with tambourine and dance!” declares the Psalmist. Why the tambourine? In the book of Exodus, we hear that Miriam took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced. The story behind the tambourine and dancing: Miriam, Moses, Aaron and the Hebrews fled Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea. Meanwhile, the Egyptian army pursued them. They made it across the sea safely and into the land of freedom. They could only take a few precious items with them in their hurry as they tried to escape from the Egyptians. What was one of those items that Miriam took? A tambourine. Miriam packed a tambourine even before she knew how the story would end. She trusted God enough that even though the situation looked dim, she would dance again. She would have reason to celebrate again. She trusted that the God of the Dance would provide music once again. Yes, today is a day worthy of dance!
As we celebrate the conclusion of the capital campaign, we praise God with a trumpet fanfare (Steve plays trumpet sound). We praise God with tambourine and dance (Peter to play.) We praise God with strings (Lara plays piano.) Yes, the piano is technically a stringed instrument. And we praise God on the grand piano. One person said, “The piano keys are black and white, but they sound like a million colors in your mind” (Maria Christina Mena). And we praise God with the pipe. (Lara plays the organ.) And we reinforce our Hallelujahs with loud clashing, clanging cymbals! (Gavin plays cymbals.) Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!