I’m going to write about music here. Not necessarily church music, but just music in general. In the trippy vision of Heaven that we get in the Book of Revelation, we find that God’s people sing songs that no one but them can learn or sing. And of all the things that we do here today, the only thing that is guaranteed that we will do in Heaven is make music. We won’t need preachers, we won’t need cops, or bankers or doctors or accountants or coders or investors or…most things, but we will be musicians.
In other words, we are musical beings. I’m not saying this to introduce a novelty, but because the Bible is telling us that we are musical beings. No music, no heaven, no worship of God.
This all seemed like a small side note to me when I was younger and first studying Greek in seminary; surely there were more important aspects of humanity that the Bible wanted us to know, our psychology, the role of reason and emotion, the ways in which we are broken, the ways we resemble God, the weals we distort those things… But now I think we will misunderstand all of those things if we don’t also recognize that we are essentially musical beings.
Regarding the idea that music is a kind of language, I suggest that we stand to gain by considering the metaphor in reverse. Given the similarities between music and language, we have as much warrant for considering language a music as the other way around.Higgins, Kathleen Marie. The Music between Us (p. 11). University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.
The story of jazz in a nutshell is: the essence of jazz was born in black baptist churches… the unique and sophisticated way it deals with major and minor tonality, it’s way with 3/4 and 4/4 time, it’s use of rhythmic and melodic displacement (swing), it’s call and response, and it’s endless ability to create variations on staple harmonies and melodies.
This church music was so powerful that musicians made a secular version of it. Fans of modern “praise music” are more accustomed to it the other way around. But Blues and R&B was basically church music with secular themes and lyrics. If you find that hard to believe, check out “It must be Jesus”, and compare it to Ray Charles singing “I got a Woman.”
Soon the music started to grow up, and most of it didn’t have words to tell you what it was saying, but it still held the original message in it’s DNA. What was the original message? That’s a story for another time. But right now check out Art Blakey taking jazz as a young teenager out to lunch.