One of the eight principles of the Word on Fire movement is “leading with beauty.” This principle is on glorious display in the newly produced Word on Fire Bible, where beautiful art illustrates the Word of God in visible form and is an extension to our senses of the written Word placed beside it.
This edition of the Gospels got me thinking of the multiple ways the Word of God can be communicated through means other than the written Word. I think here of sacred art, mosaics, iconography, frescoes, architecture, and, of course, music. Over the centuries, it was through the medium of music that the Psalms were prayed, the Scriptures were proclaimed, and God was praised in the liturgy. Music was, and continues to be, a wonderful gift from God through which he can speak to us and uplift us in worship and praise.
From the Old Testament, we know that musical instruments like lyres and harps were used in temple worship by the Jews. The communal exercise of singing was central to the praise of God’s people gathered in prayer: “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart. . . . I sing your praise” (Ps. 138:1); “O come, let us sing to the Lord. . . . Let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise” (Ps. 95:1-2). For the believer, to “sing a new song” was to praise God for his salvation experienced by his people in new ways and in the present time (Ps. 33:3; Ps. 96:1; Isa. 42:10). Therefore, in the liturgical tradition of Israel whose purpose was to draw believers into right praise and align hearts and minds to the divine life, music was an essential component. But how did this work?