Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Music and Silence are Detestable

"Music and silence--how I detest them both!" So writes the fictional demon Screwtape in Letter XXII of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Instead, Screwtape says that hell prefers noise. "We will make the whole universe a noise in the end," he adds, moments before he is transformed into the form of a giant centipede.

In contrast, music and silence are praised in the Bible. "Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp." -Psalm 147:7 (NIV) "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him." -Psalm 37:7 (NIV)

Properly incorporated, music offers opportunities to worship and glorify God, even if the music is not explicitly Christian. Bach's Brandenburg concertos, for instance, while purely instrumental, reflect Bach's love for God via well-crafted creative expression, while silence creates opportunity for contemplation.

As music degenerates into noise, and our cacophonous culture leaves little or no room for silence (we mustn't have any dead air!), the virtues of harmonious music and godly silence are stifled. May it never be so.

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