Martin Luther, the great Protestant Reformer, was the first person to promote “congregational singing”. If “one sings diligently and with skill and application”, wrote Luther reflecting on the spiritual qualities of singing, “then music makes you good and puts you at peace with yourself, with others, and with God… by providing you a vision of beauty, driving away evil, and making you happy.”
Luther believed that as you sing (as the old saying goes) “you pray twice”. He knew that because people easily remember songs, they can easily remember the biblical messages the songs convey. Luther made sure people remembered by using familiar ballads – – drinking songs from taverns and lullabies hummed to children! Luther took tunes from common life and used them as vehicles to move people to a relationship with God. The established church was shocked! They protested he was cheapening the faith.
The sobering fact was Martin Luther needed a creative way to teach his vast membership that was illiterate. Without knowledge of the faith, Luther believed, his movement would quickly die; he was one generation away from the end of Christianity.
Statistics show that in Massachusetts (on any Sunday) only 17% of people attend any organized form of worship – Church, Synagogue, Cathedral, Home-Church, etc. For all extents and purposes, 83% of our population is illiterate when it comes to understanding the Christian faith, or, any faith! Are we again one generation away from oblivion?
When we think of a well-rounded education, do we understand how important it is to give our children (and ourselves) a deep and meaningful understanding of faith and spirituality? Are we raising spiritual children to fully embrace and contemplate life?
As we turn our calendars to February, we approach Lent – – a special time of spiritual reflection and preparation where we set the tyranny of life aside and recover our faith. Come, worship, sing songs, i.e. ‘pray twice’, and remember the faith of Jesus Christ.
Rev. John Hughes, February 2012