It was five years into our marriage that I figured out Jimi Hendrix was black.
And Nathan, my nine-year old son, now knows more Beatles’ songs that I do.
My childhood exposure to pop music was meager. Dad played Billy Joel’s, An Innocent Man, and Lionel Richie’s, Hello. But mostly I remember sitting in the back of our Chevy Astro minivan, tuned into the strained notes of the organ and the droning, crackly voices of the local Christian radio station. I made promises that I’d never do that to my children.
And so Nathan asks me the other day why it is that I listen to the same songs, over and over?
I’m torturing him, the poor kid.
It’s true. I make a playlist and wear it out.
I’ve usually got some Keith Green on my playlist. There’s no doubt Keith Green and his story gave shape to my college years. (Read his biography, No Compromise, and then start listening to his music. And do it in that order!) I studied abroad in France the fall semester of my junior year, and I can remember dark mornings, boarding the city bus for the day’s classes at the local university. I’d put on my headphones (these were walkman years, people) and Keith would pound out his passionate melodies on the piano, fighting all the loneliness and insecurity I felt inside. The music was solid ground for my unsteady feet.
Still today, I could listen to Keith’s song, Make My Life a Prayer to You, a thousand more times. It’s a life song for me.
Mary’s song, recorded here in Luke, was likely sung a thousand times. It’s a song that rehearses the story of Advent, the fulfillment of the promises, the mercies of God.
What is it about music that has the power to inspire us, to hold us up in dark times, and to touch deeper places in our soul?
Mary’s song reminds me of how often God’s truth comes to me in a melody. When I’m exhausted and discouraged, I sing. When I’m celebrating God’s goodness, I sing. And week after week, I find myself in a pew in a variety of moods and all postures of faith, and I sing, the words and the melodies reaching me.
This Advent, make room for a song.