My Soul Magnifies the Lord
Lauren is a priest’s wife, homeschool mother of four, registered nurse, and has spent many hours singing in the Orthodox Christian church where she lives out her faith. She resides in Colorado and enjoys the beauty of God’s creation.
There I stood, in a dark and quiet bedroom, rocking and swaying. I held my newly adopted son, this dear gift of a child, in my thankful arms, and his little body relaxed onto my chest. As is characteristic of some Ethiopian boys, his forehead was high, which allowed me to press my cheek to his warm skin as his head nuzzled in. I always cherished this time of “skin to skin.” Lulling him to sleep, I contemplated the tender yet strong soul of this boy. He had experienced loss in his 10 months of life that I would never fully understand. I knew that only God could heal and make whole the parts in him that had been wounded. And so, what could I do? I would sing Psalm 23 to him, over him.
“The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want…”
This was my prayer for him. Whatever was lacking or had been taken away from him, I knew that God could provide in abundance. I didn’t have the right words to pray, but I felt that this scripture did. Our church often sang this Psalm in a familiar tune, so I sang it to him for years hoping that it would become ingrained in his heart.
God makes all things beautiful (Eccl. 3:11). He draws us to Himself through beauty to convey His great love for us all. This beauty appeals to our senses. One example of this is through music. Scripture and music: within these there is a beautiful connection. Music alone is an intricate melding of notes, rhythms, tones, instruments, voices, melodies, harmonies, and drive that all work together to make beauty; combine it with scripture, and this beauty can carry God’s word deep into our souls.
Through the power of music, we can ponder God’s word more profoundly within our hearts and connect there with God.
There are songs that victoriously and powerfully proclaim the resurrected Christ! Then there are songs that, with grace and gentleness, convey to us the reality of God’s faithful, constant, and present love for us.
We can also use music to convey ourselves to God. Some are blessed with tremendous talent to play instruments and sing with harmony and skill. “And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him” (2 Kings 3:15). We can sing unto the Lord a new song, a song of great praise, or a song of thankfulness. “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy Name, oh most High: to show forth Thy lovingkindness in the morning and Thy faithfulness every night” (Psalm 92). We can also sing a song from the depths of sorrow. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?” (Psalm 13).
When words alone are inadequate, the cry from the depths of the heart can be expressed through music.
As illustrated by my singing to my 10-month-old, music has been an important part of raising our four children. We have spent many nights singing them to sleep. Even our baby, who is nearly ten now, still enjoys this. We have also raised our children in the Orthodox Christian Faith, in which the majority of worship services are sung. Many of the songs that we sing are scripture put to melody. I pray that wherever my children journey, these songs of Life and Light will be a source of encouragement and hope for them always. We know that throughout history, Christians have faced persecution and hardships. Songs and hymns were often used to encourage and exhort one another to stay faithful to God. This practice can be seen in the early Church, as Paul said, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesian 5:19), and it is no less effective today.
Let us consider the songs of those who have gone before us. Mary, the young handmaiden, was given the unimaginable gift to be the bearer of Christ Himself. At this news from the angel Gabriel, she responded with a song to convey her heart to the Lord: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour...for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is His name…” (Luke 1:46-55). Then there is Simeon’s song. Simeon was a righteous man who had the Holy Spirit upon him. He had waited faithfully to see his Saviour. The words that he responded with, as he held Christ in his arms, are words that we sing at every evening service as the sun darkens and the candles give their soft glow: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word. For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people. A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of the people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). These words are ancient, but placing them to music plants the gravity of the events in our being.
In closing, “[e]very good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17)...even as I type this, I hear the tune from a song with these words that I learned as a teenager in 1995...see, it sticks! God gives us good gifts of beauty in many forms and music is certainly one of the greatest. May the immeasurable beauty of God fill our hearts and overflow to those around us for His glory and our great blessing!
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104:33).
Small Seed Copy Editor: Megan Grant