“If music be the food of love, play on.”
That’s a quote from the Bard himself and we have tried to give our son a steady diet. Sam heard Mozart in the womb and lullabies once he was born. Now, he has a pink IPod that plays Marlo Thomas and Friends, Free to Be You & Me. Our experience confirms the research that music is not only entertaining but also instructional: Sam knows his body parts because of the song, “Head, Shoulders, Feet, and Toes,” and what sounds animals make due to “Old MacDonald” and his farm.
Yet we know that God’s children of all ages can learn from music, don’t we?
Jason Byassee wrote a beautiful book about the small church in which he describes his habit of singing the refrains during Holy Communion, like the Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord”). Years later, whenever he would run into a former parishioner, that person would inevitably mention his singing. Byassee makes a point to claim that it was not his skill that was memorable; rather, something to do with the act of singing itself. We might say that the message was in the mix.
Following this advice, I occasionally sing in worship. Sometimes I’ll even slip in a short refrain during a prayer, which provided some humorous fodder when I was “roasted” by the congregation a few weeks ago. But, to quote Shakespeare again, they doth protest too much, methinks. I know that several members regularly sing a John L. Bell refrain, “Don’t be Afraid,” to their children at bedtime. I started singing this in church and by now people have committed the music to memory. And maybe the message to heart.
A short time ago, a four-year-old child of the church was singing, “Jesus Loves Me,” to Sam, much to his utter and complete delight. Suddenly, she noticed my presence; pointing at Sam, she said, “I’m his teacher!”
“You’re my teacher too,” I replied smiling.