I haven’t always been this way. When I was a kid, I’d get so caught up in whatever I was doing that I was prone to lose all track of time and occasionally even miss my bus stop. Maybe it comes with the territory of adulthood or womanhood, or maybe it’s exacerbated by the various technologies itching at our fingertips, but whatever the reason, it can feel foreign and disorienting to only do one thing at a time. (Let alone rest!)
The other day I was reading Psalm 92 (while finishing my breakfast and drinking my coffee and doing the laundry), and I was struck by the epigraph at the beginning of the psalm: “A song to be sung on the Sabbath Day.”
And it got me to thinking: What is so special about music that God would have us set aside certain songs for the Sabbath?
One of the bonus gifts I received with the Daniel-package is the gift of music. On any given day, our home is graced with strains of live music—anything from the Beatles to Bob Dylan to worship music. Daniel plays the bass guitar for our church band, and on the Sundays he goes early for practice, I like to go with him. In the spirit of efficient multitasking, I usually I bring along something I’m working on—a book to read, a letter to write, some scribbles I’ve been wanting to put to paper.
But after reading Psalm 92, I decided to just do one thing on a recent Sunday: soak in the songs for the Sabbath Day.
As the melodies and chords washed over me like so much grace, it occurred to me that music engages our hearts in a way that short-circuits our swirling minds and goes straight to our souls. The church father Athanasius suggested that God paired the words of the Psalms with melody to serve as a metaphor of sorts. Music, he said, serves as “a symbol of the spiritual harmony in a soul.” As a Christian sings praises, Athanasius said, he “brings rhythm to his soul and leads it, so to speak, from disproportion to proportion.”
While I sat there listening, I noticed something interesting about the rest notes. As lovely as the music is, the rests make you appreciate the melody all the more.
Just like Sundays.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening,
accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp,
and the melody of a lyre.*
*Or an ice-blue Fender bass guitar.