I just spent one of the most inspirational, relaxing, enjoyable 60 minutes in a long time. With my dog pal Lucy tucked close beside me in my easy chair, I watched the Amazing Grace television presentation by Bill and Gloria Gaither. Rosanne actually taped it a couple of days ago and saved it for me as a special Valentine's Day gift.
I have written about gospel music, and the Gaithers in particular, numerous times before and I'm writing about it again because I have a very real fear that our current generation may never enjoy and understand the significance of listening to this type of music with their hearts rather than their minds; of realizing its value as an aid to meditation and elevated consciousness.
To hear contemporary gospel music and age-old hymns with ears of faith, is indeed very powerful. I honestly believe, however, that to fully appreciate it one has to have been born into it because it is all about stirring up old memories and deeply embedded convictions of our forefathers. It is warm. It is familiar. It is comfortable. It is inspiring. I worry that music of faith is a gift that we are neglecting to give to the younger generation and, sadly, one more example of how we may be failing them.
Just think about it for a minute...From early chants to sung Scriptures, from versified Psalms to original words and music written in our own time, our musical heritage is as varied as it is long. Most of our great theology has been carried in the hymns of our churches. Different musical styles have spoken eternal truths. The great advantage we have over our forefathers is being able to enjoy the richness of the past together with the creativity of the present as so beautifully expressed by people like the Gaithers. Hymns and contemporary gospel stand as a symbol of the legacy we ideally leave to future generations.
I wanted to include a sample of some of my recent favorite gospel songs but regretfully I am having difficulty linking with my downloads. Instead, I leave you with the words of Martin Luther:
"I wish to see all arts, principally music, in the service of Him who gave and created them. Music is a fair and glorious gift of God. I would not for the world forgo my humble share of music. Singers are never sorrowful, but are merry, and smile through their troubles in song. Music makes people kinder, gentler, more staid and reasonable. I am strongly persuaded that after theology there is no art than can be placed on a level with music; for besides theology, music is the only art capable of affording peace and joy of the heart..."
I don't think that the same will ever be said about the screaming acid rock and repetitive rap delivered by macho, gyrating crotch-grabbers that so attracts the youth of today. Somewhere along the line we have gone wrong and that makes me very sad -- and helpless.
A wonderful gift of musical heritage awaits our youth and many may never receive it; never experiencing ultimate emotional exhilaration.
I pray that my grandchildren, and yours, will some day understand whereof I speak. May they too be moved to tears of joy that only deep spiritual emotion can bring as they listen to the moving strains of Amazing Grace, Love Lifted Me, How Great Thou Art, Go, Tell It on the Mountains and Through It All.