By Rev. Mary Thomas Kaylor
I am far from what you’d call a musician but music has always been a part of my life. I can hear my grandmother singing her original lullaby to me as a toddler as I fought against inevitable sleep. “Inky, dinky, bob-a-linky, close your pretty eyes. The sandman’s here to take you on a trip to paradise…”1 I remember listening to the oldies station as my dad drove me to softball practice, hearing The Beatles and my dad telling me stories about all the bands he saw in his younger days. “It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog. It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log…”2 I remember the goosebumps that popped up on my arms as my mom and I listened to James Taylor and Carole King sing together live. “Well it won’t be long before another day, we’re gonna have a good time. And no one’s gonna take that time away…”3 I can feel the tears well up in my eyes as my aunt, uncle and cousins sang at my ordination. “But you have called me higher, you have called me deeper and I will go where you will lead me Lord.”4 I could go on and on as music is tied to so many memories, emotions and significant experiences in my life. So, it comes as no surprise that music has been important during this time of quarantine and physical distancing.
During the past 8 or so weeks of only leaving the house when necessary, my house has rarely been quiet as I’ve turned to my playlists and records. I’ve found comfort, peace, strength, joy and so much more in the voices of so many artists. I suspect I am not alone in my need for music during this time. According to Psychology Today, “Listening to music is an easy way to alter mood or relieve stress. People use music in their everyday lives to regulate, enhance, and diminish undesirable emotional states (e.g., stress, fatigue).”5 And this is nothing new. The earliest evidence of musical instruments dates back 40,000 years.6 The first written music can be found on a 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablet.7 The Bible itself gives us an entire book of songs.
Within the book of Psalms, you find songs of praise, lament, and thanksgiving. No matter what you are feeling or going through there is a Psalm that speaks to the experience. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise” (Psalm 138:1). Each Psalm is an honest, emotional expression by the writer. Nothing was off-limits when it came to writing a Psalm, every thought and feeling was fair game. The writer knew no song that he could write would be too much for God. He could express his anger and sadness and God would hear it. His songs could be about the lowest lows and the highest highs and each one would be seen as valuable and precious to God. Each song is also valuable and precious to me. In times when my joy is overflowing, I can find a song. When my sadness feels too heavy, I can find a song. When the isolation and loneliness start to take their toll, I can find a song. “So, I say thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing. Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing. Who can live without it? I ask in all honesty, what would life be? Without a song or a dance, what are we? So, I say thank you for the music, for giving it to me.”8
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.