Music And Lyrics

The world has a rhythm: a steady beat of seasons and sunrises, of tides and migrations and flowers and fruit.

The world has a melody: the beauty that stands out and demands our attention—the dawn chorus, the painted skies, the autumn colours and majestic peaks.

The world has a harmony: the subtle details that we hardly even notice, but they add richness and depth to the world, like the veins in a leaf, the scent in the grass, and the warmth in sunshine and fire.

The world is a symphony: exquisite and detailed and beautiful. But for all of its music, there is one thing that the world cannot supply on its own. The world has music—but it doesn’t have lyrics. That’s where we come in.

Out of all of his creation, God gave human beings the ability to speak, write, and communicate meaningful and complex language. He gave us the ability to think beyond ourselves, to understand not only what we see around us, but what it means. We have the ability to hear the music of creation and respond with language that can honour it and expound its meaning—we are the writers, the poets, the scribes of creation. We are the lead vocalists in the concert, the choir singing our lyrics above the symphony.

The honour of our position is obvious, as George Herbert drew out skilfully in his poem “Providence”, which he wrote in 1633. Here are a few stanzas (I have updated the spelling of a few words to make it easier to read):

O Sacred Providence, who from end to end
Strongly and sweetly moves! Shall I write,
And not of thee, through whom my fingers bend
To hold my quill? Shall they not do thee right?

Of all the creatures both in sea and land
Only to Man thou hast made known thy ways,
And put the pen alone into his hand,
And made him Secretary of thy praise.

Beasts fain would sing; birds dittie to their notes;
Trees would be tuning on their native lute
To thy renown: but all their hands and throats
Are brought to Man, while they are lame and mute.

He that to praise and laud thee doth refrain,
Doth not refrain unto himself alone,
But robs a thousand who would praise thee fain,
And doth commit a world of sin in one.

All of creation would sing the praise of its Creator, but it has no words for that; God has entrusted the lyrics to humanity. It is our privilege as humans to be able to see and understand how the wonders of creation point to the wonders of their Creator. It is our sacred task as humans to be the voice of these wonders, to provide the lyrics of praise for the music of creation. You are—right now—standing in the middle of a symphony of worship. Do you hear it? And will you stay silent, and “rob a thousand who would praise”? Or will you take up the pen, and your role as a “Secretary” of that praise? Right now, you can voice your thanks and praise to God, in the stillness of your own heart. Today, you can share the lyrics of praise with others. You can join in the song, and sing the words that all creation would sing if they had a voice—but they do have a voice—their voice is you.

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