I have a hymnal published in 1976 by Paragon Associates, Inc. called Hymns for the Family of God. I flip through it fairly often even though my church doesn’t really use hymnals anymore. It’s the hymnal that was used in the churches my dad pastored growing up. It’s familiar and I’m comfortable with it. I can easily locate my favorite hymns and the index is organized in a much nicer way than many other hymnals I’ve used. My favorite thing about the hymnal, however, is the opening page. It contains a quote that I love and go back to read often:
“A Fair and Glorious Gift”
“I wish to see all the arts, principally music, in the service of Him who gave and created them. Music is a fair and glorious gift of God. I would not for the world forego my humble share of music. Singers are never sorrowful, but are merry, and smile through their troubles in song. Music makes people kinder, gentler, more staid and reasonable. I am strongly persuaded that after theology there is no art that can be placed on a level with music; for besides theology, music is the only art capable of affording peace and joy of the heart… the devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God.”
I like this image of seeing the devil flee as we lift up our voice to God in praise. Satan is the enemy. He is real. He cannot stand to see God worshipped. That’s what Satan does. He tempts us to worship anything and everything but Christ, and when we worship Christ he has failed; he is defeated again and again as we sing to the One who won The Victory on the cross 2,000 years ago.
It is true that music as an art has no equal. Look at the arts in our culture. Music is by far the most popular. We listen to it in our cars, at our jobs, in our homes and on our phones. It is everywhere. Humans connect to music in a different way than we connect with the other arts. I suppose we connect with stories in plays and movies, but not the same way we do with music (can you imagine a movie without a soundtrack?). Songwriter’s write songs and musicians create textural landscapes with instruments, but there’s this element to music that when writing a song, you aren’t so much creating it as you are discovering it. The music is there. God created it. And when we sing what God created the devil flees. When we put the words of God, the truth of the gospel and what He has done, to the melodies He has given to us, the devil flees because it is simply a reminder to him that he’s already lost and Christ is victorious.