I read a fun post over at A Band Of Christians regarding Mormon & Evangelical music, how to find the music, and many other good resources. It started me thinking how often we hear that music “crosses all boundaries”. It has been my experience that music does break down barriers and soften the rough edges in all of us. Respect and unity (true harmony) can be fostered through music. This is why I propose we build an interfaith playlist together.
The apostle Paul taught the Philippians:
Certainly, music should be placed into the highest level of things that can be most lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy to “think on” and enjoy. All of my life I have been surrounded and immersed in good music. My tastes cover a broad (eclectic) spectrum. I own CDs spanning a lot of decades, too (because I am several decades old now). Shelves of it. (not to mention the box full of those ‘ancient relics’ called Cassette Tapes I don’t know what to do with). Since I’m the one proposing this play-list, then here are some artists on my shelf that I could add – The Osmond Family, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Carpenters, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, the ‘metropolis trifecta’ (Alabama, Chicago, Kansas), Yanni, ABBA, Amy Grant, Enya, Celine Dion (Why doesn’t someone suggest she sing in French exclusively? try Chante Plamondon ), Bob Carlisle, and that’s only half of one shelf, so I could go on and on…but this is about creating an international interfaith playlist, so I digress…
The significant portion of my collection and my life has been devoted to Classical Music, with a special emphasis on Opera and Art Song. This was my focus of study in college, and I obtained my higher degree in Vocal Performance. Classical music is a part of my soul. I feel the composers, and their songs, are my close friends. I am inspired by the genius and passion of Mozart, the power of Beethoven’s work (against horrible odds), the faithfulness of Bach, the inspiration of Handel, the tenderness of Chopin…. and if I continued, my list would go for pages, so I will leave that for another post. In the classical cannon there is a song for every emotion and human condition one can imagine. Opera takes it one huge step further by combining every creative art into one amazing event for the senses. Even hundreds of years later, when an aria such as Puccini’s Nessun Dorma is performed well, it will touch the most unlikely hearts and bring tears to the listeners (Watch Paul Potts audition for British Idol) Sufficient to say, the Classical masters, and their works are priceless treasures.
I have also spent a lifetime drinking from the deep well of American hymns, spirituals and other great liturgical works. Currently I am fully immersed (more like “deep sea diving”) in the massive collection that comprises the Choral music kingdom!
I am not saying that all music is “good” or “praiseworthy”. Unfortunately, as in most things, where there is the greatest beauty, there will also be great ugliness and counterfeit. Some of the worst filth on earth is passed off as “music”. I am talking about music that demeans, incites hatred and anger, creates a spirit of chaos rather than peace, brings negative thoughts instead of positive, encourages destructive, reckless or immoral behavior, and accomplishes its goal of numbing the soul.
We must be very careful what we choose to listen to, because music has a very powerful force on the mind, heart, body and soul (not to mention the ears)! Luckily, there is a tremendous amount of beautiful music to choose from, that frees the soul.
Despite my focus on Classical music, I have never limited my listening pleasure to one genre or style. There are new and exciting musical talents to be discovered continually (both past, present and future). I have enjoyed sampling the Christian/Evangelical genre. I am thrilled with the talent, the devotion, and spirit of these artists. A few of my favorites are; Chris Rice, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Nicole C. Mullen, Selah, MercyMe, Mark Schultz, and Jeremy Camp, (Did I miss someone you can’t live without? Let me know about them!) I know that there would be equally amazing performers within every religion and culture. However, I need your help to share with me those favorites.
Here’s my little plug for Pandora, a free on-line radio site. It offers a fabulous opportunity to create your own “stations” based upon an artist or song of your choice. It plays continuous music (no ads), you can skip a song if you don’t like it, (or vote it off the list, if you loathe it) The new station will include artists and songs that are similar to your main pick on the station, which allows the chance to discover new favorites. I love listening to Pandora at the office or while “blogging”. Just as the apostle Paul wisely taught – It is a blessing to seek and find good things that feed our ‘spiritual battery’. We all need good music that brings peace, happiness, encouragement, and lovely thoughts. So, dive in!
“Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.”
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
So now it is your turn! I am eager to open up the conversation to all of you so we can build this playlist. Share the artists and songs that you feel will promote understanding and respect among all others despite our different backgrounds and beliefs. What brings you the greatest inner peace or happiness to listen to? Share at least one favorite song/artist and we can watch our inspirational music library grow! I look forward to hearing from you as we build this interfaith play-list! Let us all rejoice together in the gift of music – for it has the power to cross all boundaries and knit our hearts together in perfect harmony.