In 1965 a single record, entitled Eve of Destruction, began playing on radio stations. Sung by Barry McGuire, the song quickly rose in popularity. Composer P.F. Sloan’s now famous line “You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin” led to passage of the 26th amendment, lowering the minimum voting age from 21 to 18.
Nearly 50 years later this remains a prime example of music carrying the message. What do I mean by this? How can music carry any message? God created music as a means for us to worship Him. While you can certainly worship God without music, there’s something helpful about music that can usher us into God’s Presence. Someone not given to remembering words by themselves will benefit through hearing those words, delivered through a musical messenger-a song the hearer sings and/or listens to.
My senior year of high school I was part of the school choir. Although not a Christian at the time, I’ve never forgotten two songs we sang in that public high school. One was based on Psalm 145:15,16; the other was “Alleluia”, written by Randall Thompson. The first consists of two verses; the second has, until the ending “Amen”, the singular word “Alleluia” Both songs carry messages: the former of God’s provision; the latter of praise. Decades later, both messages remain with me due, in no small part, to the musical vehicle of each.
Music alone or music carrying a message, there’s something almost undefinable about music that causes us to hear more than notes. Whether for worship, entertainment, or simply influence, music is certainly more than notes and sounds. Whether we disagree about what kind of music is appropriate for us, one thing is certain: Music, more often than not, is carrying the message.
What are we listening to? More importantly, what is the message-and are we hearing it?