I sometimes wonder what crucial items I would grab if I had to evacuate my house in a hurry. When I read that the Israelites pulled out instruments to worship on the banks of the Red Sea, it struck me that they had fled Egypt so quickly their bread had had no time to rise. Yet they grabbed their timbrels to take into the wilderness? What a comfort music must have been to them during the centuries of enslavement: a way to bring the community together and worship God even in dark times.
Songs in Israel’s culture were often a call and response; they encouraged participation and unified the community. This was important during the generations of crushing slavery and equally important during times of celebration. Songs still have that important role today. At my church, while worshiping with masks on because of pandemic protocols, I thought about the communal aspect of singing. It might have been easier for me to just listen (since no one could really tell if I was singing anyway), but I felt like I’m part of God’s people when I lifted my muffled voice with others in praise or lamentation.
We have probably all heard an old song on the radio and remarked, “Oh, this brings me back to....” Miriam’s song might have been a popular one for many years after God delivered them through the Red Sea, encouraging the people of Israel when they needed to remember God’s power. How can music encourage you?
1. Create playlists of worship songs. Include favorite children's songs. Kids love to listen to these songs again and again. Learn the words, and sing often, loud, and together. Bonus points if you leave the car windows down.
2. Put together a showcase of worship songs from around the world and across time. Teach well-known important hymns. Find Christian songs in different languages or featuring unfamiliar rhythms or lyrics different from what you’re used to.
3. Share personal stories with your children about songs that are important to you. My brother asked my children to sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” at his wedding, because our mother clung to that song when he had been born with spina bifida. This experience reinforced the lyrics of the hymn and cemented it in my children’s lives.
4. Share how music helps us explore different big feelings, from praise to mourning. Show how biblical characters like David used music in these same ways.
Grateful- Psalm 40
Discouraged- Psalm 42
Find examples of music that does this now.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). How might you make psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs a regular part of your relationship with God?
Want to do a deep dive? Check out Family Fire's article Creative Family Worship