Music & Creation Care

LAV 842“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High.” Psalms 92:1

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to you that many of my favorite hymns are songs that praise God as Creator.  Some of my personal favorites are “This is My Father’s World,”  “Great is Thy Faithfulness,”  “For the Beauty of the Earth,”  “Worthy of Worship,” and “Morning Has Broken.”  Some of my favorite contemporary Christian songs are likewise focused on God as Creator.  These include “Indescribable” and “All Things Well,” both by Chris Tomlin, and “Creation Song” by Fernando Ortega.

This past week I was reminded of the importance of singing songs connecting God and Creation.  Matthew Sleeth, in his newest book, The Gospel According to the Earth, has a chapter on the Book of Psalms he calls “The First Environmental Music.”  In this chapter he claims that singing songs connecting God and Creation can actually make a difference in how we look at and treat the earth.  He says, “Singing songs in praise of creation inspires us to appreciate God’s gifts.  Appreciation leads to a desire to be better stewards.  Better stewardship at home, church, work, and beyond leads to less waste.  Less waste demonstrates respect for God, resulting in a cleaner, more beautiful world in which to sing his praises.”  I like Sleeth’s thinking, as well as his conclusion to the chapter: “With God as the conductor, maybe music can also save a planet.”

LAV 904A couple of days ago I got my latest edition of Orion in the mail.  This is an environmental magazine that Rob Sheppard introduced me to last year.  In it there is an article by Erik Reese about how a group of country musicians are using their talents to combat mountaintop removal in Appalachia.  Toward the end of the article Reese writes: “Can music save mountains?  Certainly not by itself.  But there is a reason Walter Pater said that all art aspires toward the condition of music.  More than any other art form, music can connect the head to the heart, the self to the social whole.  After all, the fiddle tunes that began in the mountains of Appalachia were never meant for an ‘audience.’  That music was intended to draw people together, to involve them in something communal and collective.  Now a new collective conscience must be mobilized in order to preserve the mountains where this music was born.”

It would seem that there truly is a connection between music and Creation Care—a connection worth noting and celebrating.  God told Job that when He created the world “the morning stars sang together.” (38:7)  It seems to me that it’s now our job to continue the song.

–Chuck

(The images above were taken at a lavender field near Port Angeles, Washington.)