Music. Anyone who’s ever blissed out at a rave or shut their eyes and put their hands in the air to some good ol’ stadium rock will testify to its emotive properties.
I can remember my husband, pretty early on in our marriage, struggling one Sunday after church. “It’s not that I don’t enjoy the worship,” he explained: “I think maybe I enjoy it too much. What if it’s not God that I’m responding to, but just the music? What if I’m just one of those people that’s easily moved by music?”
He was worried that the church was ‘using’ a style of mainstream music to evoke an emotional response in him that wasn’t real. But the reality is actually the complete opposite: God has hardwired us for worship, as He has all of creation. We’re built to be moved by music. It’s mainstream music that has piggybacked off of that.
You see, when the Bible talks about all the earth singing to the Lord (Psalm 96), it isn’t just a figure of speech. All matter has a frequency – you and I included – and therefore all matter resonates – or makes a sound. There’s an album by Nasa called Symphonies of the Planets, real-life recordings of the sounds made by Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and our own planet Earth. It makes truly incredible listening; these things actually make a sound. They make music.
And music feels good – research has proven that listening to music releases dopamine, the feel-good factor in our brain. These dopamine releases are also linked to other necessary human functions – notably sex and food. But why music? Sex and food are vital for our survival, but music? That’s a question science is still trying to work out, but perhaps we already know the answer. We are hard-wired to worship, and music is one way that we do that.
But it isn’t the only way. And matter isn’t the only thing to have a frequency at which it vibrates. Other things that God created – light, for example – have a frequency. Red light, blue light, green light – they all have different frequencies. And of course visible light – the colours that we humans see – are only a tiny fraction of the whole electromagnetic spectrum, which includes radiowaves, microwaves, infrared, ultraviolet, gamma rays and x-rays. These vibrations, these frequencies, all have specific roles and uses; we use them to kill cancer cells, cook food, destroy ink in unwanted tattoos, treat acne – we can’t see them all, but we see their effects. And they are inherently creative. In Genesis 1:2 it says that the Spirit of God hovered, or vibrated, over the waters as the world was created. And then God said: “Let there be light,” and there was light. The Hebrew word for this light – not the same as the lights he put in the sky in verse 14 – was referring to the first waves of light energy that came onto the earth.
So, frequency, vibration and resonance are all perfectly planned by a perfect creator as part of our creative make up. We hear it as music, see it as colour and feel it too sometimes when the Holy Spirit moves through us. God rejoices over us with singing in Zephaniah 3:17, and throughout the whole of creation – using all its forms and frequencies – the whole of creation worships God in return. It’s a beautiful circular economy; His gift to us and ours right back to Him, a never-ending communication and circle of praise.
“Sing to the Lord, all the earth…
Tremble before him all the earth…
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
They will sing before the Lord”