35 – Rejoice the Lord is King: Understanding Objective Beauty, Accessibility, Memorability, and Appropriate Emotion

Psalm 35

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Who are we listening to

Bryan

Grant

Justin

The Great Awokening

Kevin Max

DC Talk’s Kevin Max Comes Out As A ‘Spiritual-But-Not-Religious Freak’

Types of responses 

  1. Huh?
  2. Open acceptance 
  3. Exvangelicals are all the same
  4. No they’re not you racist. 
  • Melodic Weaponry
  • Worship “Innovation”

Main Topic: Beauty, Accessibility, Memorability, and Appropriate Emotion

(Disclaimer)

I said at the beginning of this season that the excellence element is more universal than just type 1 music. All music should pursue excellence in beauty and craft. However, for this episode, I do plan on focusing more on type 1 music, because I believe that it is easier to see the truths concerning beauty when comparing them with the Truth of Scripture. All other types of music and their pursuit of excellence in beauty (even those only reflecting general revelation) will have to branch out from type 1 music reflecting special revelation.

Lyrical Beauty—Do the lyrics utilize poetic devices, form, and mnemonic to grasp for objective beauty, accessibility, memorability, and an appropriate emotional connection?

Musical Beauty—Does the music utilize prosody and surprise to grasp for objective beauty, accessibility, memorability, and an appropriate emotional connection? 

Objective beauty (recap)

Beauty was a major part of Jewish worship. Every aspect of the Tabernacle and Temple was dedication to the Standard of Beauty, because any less for the House of God would have been blasphemy and disobedience. This is later reflected in the beauty of the Psalter, the Wisdom literature, the Canticles, many of the Prophets  and the Creeds (found in many of the Epistles).

Today, we must not settle for what is popular over what is truly beautiful. The sound may be very pleasant and appealing to man, but we must compare the sound with what is generally agreed to be truly beautiful both in special and general revelation. We mustn’t be fooled by the lipstick on the swine so to speak.

Accessibility

In my opinion, true beauty must be understood by all who have eyes to see or ears to hear. Like Truth or Knowledge, there is no such thing as secret beauty. This isn’t to say that beauty must be watered down or “hold our hands” to understand it. That fits more with popularity.

There is such a thing as higher art or deeper art that requires prerequisite knowledge to understand fully, but even then, the true beauty is transcendent and shines through, even if the viewer doesn’t fully understand the meaning.

In the scriptures, there is a plethora of descriptions and prescriptions to sing in the assembly or in the full congregation etc. To me, in order for the song to be sung in the full congregation, it must be accessible to the full congregation.

Psalms 22:22

[22] I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: (ESV)

Psalms 35:18

[18] I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you. (ESV)

Psalms 68:26

[26] Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain! (ESV)

Psalms 107:32

[32] Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. (ESV)

Psalms 111:1

[1] Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. (ESV)

Memorability

True beauty will leave a lasting impression in my opinion. This has been the case in my own personal experience, but I do believe that if something is forgettable, then it didn’t capture the heart, soul, mind, or strength of the viewer. True beauty, like Truth, forces you to deal with it, and accept it or reject it. Regardless. You will remember it.

I can’t make a great argument from prescriptive passages of scripture, but there is a great deal of narrative all throughout where people recall from memory their experiences with God, Truth, and Beauty. The people regularly committed the Psalms to memory, and tradition tells us that many particular Psalms were sung from memory, especially during the Passover week and the journey leading up to it. 

We do have Scripture that suggests we commit Scripture to memory (Psalm 119:11), but this isn’t the same thing as committing beauty to memory. However, there is an argument to say that Scripture is Beautiful and committing to memory is beneficial. Two Truth statements that aren’t entirely related, but not entirely unrelated.

An appropriate emotional connection

We talked about emotion a little bit during the Psalm Model episodes, specifically how the praise and lament Psalms stimulated different sets of emotions, and that all emotions are good.

One thing to keep in mind about the Psalms in particular is that they were written as expressions of emotions felt by the psalmist, and as genuine expressions of emotions, we can empathize and respond emotionally.

True beauty is an expression of felt emotion, and the viewer with eyes to see and ears to hear can feel the same emotion appropriately.

Some songs are written in a way that manipulate emotions. Instead of being an expression of genuine emotion, songs are written sentimentally to force emotions on the listener. This can be especially dangerous with type 1 music because it tricks people to believe that worship is an emotional state, and that when you feel certain emotions, you are worshipping.

Instead, God had given us the gift of coming to Him with our emotions. If we are joyous, we can praise. If we are devastated, we can lament. All of this is good, and Scripture guides us in our emotional journeys.

 Matthew 5:12 (ESV) 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 Psalm 68:3 (ESV)
 3 But the righteous shall be glad; 
 they shall exult before God; 
 they shall be jubilant with joy!
 Luke 6:23 (ESV) 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 

Thanks for listening

The Balm of Gilead podcast is a member of the Tech Reformation family of podcasts. If you enjoy the show, please share it with others. We enjoy hearing from you, so join us on the Tech Reformation Slack and let us know what you’re thinking. If email is more your thing, write to us at thereis <at> balmcast <dot> com. Thanks again and we’ll see you next time, Lord willing.


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