When listening to music it’s a delight to hear a familiar melody or theme. Sometimes it can be melody that is unfamiliar, but based on a chord progression used in a song that is familiar.
A friend of mine who is quite astute regarding theater can recognize a familiar plot or scheme without much difficulty. Dave has helped me see that a pattern such as thesis, antithesis and synthesis is integral to many different dramas. Without a problem to solve or tension of some kind our attention tends to dissipate. It’s fun to try to anticipate the resolution of the conflict. The synthesis is the resolution of the tension caused by the antithetical part of the drama.
Many people, even those with a strong Christian faith in God’s providence, seek a life that is free of pain, sorrow, and strife. Through the study of the songs of faith I’ve discovered that there is a story behind many of the great hymns that have stood the test of time. The author’s search for meaning in suffering resulted in a sense of resolution. The thoughtful singing of these hymns helps us prepare for days that are more challenging.
“O God, Our Help in Ages Past” is based on Psalm 90 which begins with a description of God who is faithful and whose love never ends. In contrast we see the brevity of our lives described in these words, “Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all of us away; we fly forgotten as a dream dies at the opening day.” The resolution comes in the final stanza, “Be thou our guide while life shall last, and our eternal home.” Isaac Watts, the author points us to eternity with God as our final destiny. Coping with the struggles of life is easier if we realize that they are an integral part of our journey as Christ followers. We can choose to allow them to make us bitter, or better.
An example from scripture is the call of the prophet Isaiah recorded in Isaiah 6:1-8. His revered King Uzziah had died. He was devastated by his loss. As he entered the temple to worship, his vision of God was renewed. The majestic holiness of God was revealed to him as the angels proclaimed, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled with his glory!” His conscience was quickened, or aroused, and he realized the contrast between his sinful nature and God’s holiness. He confessed his sin and was resolved and responded by saying, “Here I am, Lord, send me.”
We all need to have our spirit awakened by an encounter with the living God. He calls not only prophets, preachers, and song writers, but people in all walks of of life. As I reflect on many years as a musician, my most rewarding moments have been when I’ve realized how God uses music to awaken people to his presence, to themselves, and to each other. For Johann Sebastian Bach, the purpose of music was to glorify God and awaken the minds and hearts of people.
A question we could ask ourselves, “What has been, or what will be the theme of my life?” As we remember and learn from our past, we can chart a new course. God is more concerned about the present and future than the past. May the God of hope fill us with joy and peace in believing. May we abound in all joy, hope, and peace by the power of the Spirit of God in us. (paraphrase of Romans 15:13).