One time my mom invited me to her retirement home to hear two country singers perform for the residents. The lead singer sang familiar tunes about love and loss. All of the residents seemed to enjoy the music, yet it got me wondering. We often take for granted the lyrics we hear in music, and the subtle and not-so-subtle messages they sometimes pass along.
Some believe humans sang, in some manner, even before they talked. And the Bible, dating back thousands of years, has insights into song themes we might want to hold dear to our hearts. It contains some lamentations and sad psalms, but there’s a stronger golden thread of gratitude. For instance, in various places it makes references such as: “Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains!” (Isaiah 49:13, New King James Version) and “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” (Psalms 98:4).
I think the Bible is telling us that even in the face of disappointment, loss, and grief, singing praises to God counters the effects of those and reveals the spiritual good – and gratitude – available to us right now.
As I sat at the table listening to the music, what I have been learning through the teachings of Christian Science came so clearly to me, that God, the creator of all real existence, created us as the very reflection of divine Spirit – therefore as inherently joyful. The true universe is spiritual, so expressing gratitude for the harmony that reigns throughout this spiritual universe is natural. Allowing our hearts to feel God’s joy opens our eyes to see even more of the good God has for each one of us, indeed to see that God, good, is truly all, and that its opposite, evil, is not actually a reality or power. Understanding this enables us to confront and overcome the evils we seem to face.
As I sat there thinking about this, I had to smile. The musicians had just moved on from their repertoire of “lonesome blues” and started playing gospel tunes – reminding me that when we “make a joyful noise,” praising the infinite goodness of God and striving to think and act rightly, we aren’t just listening to a song – we are the song. We’re living the joy that’s inherently ours.
A version of this article aired on the Dec. 5, 2017, Christian Science Daily Lift podcast.