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When the Power of Scripture Meets the Power of Music

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

There is something powerful about Scripture. The Bible, “breathed out” by God Himself, is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12). God’s Word is comfort and life to the weary soul. It’s a sword of truth with which to fight the enemy’s lies. It’s sweeter than honey and more desirable than gold. From start to finish, it tells the Story of redemption and hope for the world. Through Scripture, the God of the universe has chosen to reveal Himself to us. And each time it is spoken, read, or sung, we behold Him. Just think about that!

There is also something powerful – almost mysteriously so – about music. It’s power has been scientifically proven, but we really only have to turn to personal experience to tell us that this is true. Songs can make us cry, make us laugh, make us feel joy. It seems my two kids have been hard-wired to dance, clap, and jam out to songs like “Gangnam Style” and “Single Ladies” since they were 6 months old (and so we listen to them over and over, so help me). Music is communal and universal, binding us across cultural and even linguistic barriers. We remember words to songs much sooner than we remember prose or movie lines or even our wedding vows. Without us even realizing it, we are being moved, shaped, and changed by music every day.

So, if these two things are true, then it stands to reason that the songwriters of the Church have a special responsibility. We should be writing songs that expose God’s people to more and more of His powerful, life-changing Word.

Sure, we need the “stuff of life” songs about love and break-ups, death and hardship, marriage and kids. But we also need songwriters to intentionally engage with scripture, asking themselves “How can I faithfully and creatively tell this story? Teach this passage? Shed light on this lesser known part of the Bible?” We need non-kids’ songs about Noah and Abraham and King David. We need songs that explore how Jesus felt when he was going to the cross or how the people of God felt when they were exiled to Babylon. We need songs that tell the stories that people don’t know: a song that delves into the bloody mess that is Nahum, a song about the unsung heroes in Acts, and a song that tells the full story of Zephaniah (and not just the part about God delighting over us in Zephaniah 3:17).

We would love to hear from you: Who are some artists that combine the power of scripture and the power of music well? What specific songs do this well? What are some passages of scripture or stories in the Bible from which you’d like to see more songs?

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Caroline Cobb (@carocobbmusic) is a singer/songwriter whose work recently appeared on The Gospel Coalition's latest release, When Trials Come: Resurrection Songs for a World of Suffering.