Parish Link - july 2024

Power of music

The Power of Music

Dear Friends,

There is an interesting story in the Bible about the power of music. It starts with King Saul, who ruled over ancient Israel from circa 1030 - 1010 BC. At one point during his reign, he struggled with an episode of depression, as we would call it today. Saul’s servants approached him and said: ‘See now, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.’ This was how mental illness was understood in the ancient near east.

If King Saul would have lived today, he would be prescribed anti-depressants, but the NHS of his days had no access to such medication, Instead, the royal doctor prescribed a music therapist: ‘Let us look for someone who is skilful in playing the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will feel better.’ The famous musician David was found, and happily, it worked: ‘Whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.’ (You can read this story in 1 Samuel 16.14-23)

Music is incredibly powerful. The brain responds strongly to music. Music therapy still changes people’s lives and helps to heal mental trauma today. Music moves us emotionally. Music can express things beyond words. From the soothing harp, to the rousing rock band, to the roaring football chants at the Euros. Music brings people together.

Apparently, Taylor Swift’s tour in the UK this summer is boosting our economy by 1 billion, potentially delaying a Bank of England interest rate cut! I like to imagine our summer concert at St James’s is going to have a similar effect, but even if it doesn’t, it will still be lovely to gather and enjoy the sound of stringed instruments, with wine and nibbles, as people have done for literally thousands of years. You are invited!

Love and prayers,

Johannes Nobel