20th February

Philippa Burrell

During the past year Philippa has been using some of the time during lockdown to learn to play the recorder, and not the usual descant recorder so beloved of primary school children, but the more mellifluous treble recorder. This picture reminds us of the huge role that music plays in both the Old and New Testaments. Throughout the Bible music has been demonstrated to be a gift or a blessing from God. Through this gift we can offer praise and thanksgiving to God but we can also use it to express our greatest emotions – from deep sorrow to the heights of joy. Music has always been a powerful mood-altering agent which can stir the emotions or calm a troubled soul. An early biblical example of this is found in 1 Samuel when Saul, a man who regularly fell into deep depressions, engaged David to play the harp for him whenever he felt distressed. And as 1 Samuel 16:23 says “And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul: he would feel better and the distressing spirit would leave him.”

In the second book of Chronicles we read these words, “ indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord ……… that the house, the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud…” As a result of this musical offering the cloud (the glory of the Lord) filled the Temple.

And if we fast forward to the last book of the New Testament, to Revelation we read that music is rendered to God in much the same way as incense or prayers. Revelation 5: 8 “ Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song ……”

Musical expression not only provides the opportunity for communication with God our creator, but it also offers us the chance to create. Music is from God and when we sing or play an instrument, we are using our gifts and talents as a dedication and offering to Him. And we don’t need to be a great musician in order to do so but, as I am sure that Philippa has found over the past few months, musical offerings do require sacrifice. We need to learn how to play an instrument before we can offer a musical rendition, we need to learn the tune to a song before we can sing it, be that alone or in a group. Many of us may never perform music in a public arena but I am sure that we all listen to music and I’m sure that all of us have particular pieces of music which have great significance for us. As we listen to the following piece of music, we may choose to use the accompanying prayer.

Music and Prayer

Elegy – Thalben-Ball

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of music and song,
For the gift that gives our spirits a divine voice.
We thank you for all those who write music, arranging sound, seeking beauty.
We pray also for those who play music, creating sound, releasing beauty.
Thank you for music teachers and choir directors who are willing to take the time to teach the next generation that they too may use their musical talents to glorify you. Thank you for the music we have heard and the hymns we have sung over the years. We pray that their beautiful melodies and inspiring words may come back to our hearts and minds throughout the weeks, reminding us of your great love and mercy. Amen

Reflection written by Lesley Heffer