Music to the glory of God

Artist Series guest, classical guitarist Gabriel Rodriguez, has been enjoying his time on campus, interacting with students and sharing highlights of his beautiful music in the Dining Complex. Students invited Mr. Rodriguez to present his philosophy of music in Spanish chapel, a weekly chapel initiated by Spanish Professor Dr. Manuel Morales to challenge students to further their Spanish and ministry skills.

Garrett FurnariStudents organized the chapel and were responsible for interpreting Mr. Rodriguez’s presentation, given entirely in Spanish. Through the use of modern technology, Garrett Furnari ’13 led the interpretation team, giving Garret a unique opportunity to share in the interaction via FaceTime from his home in New Hampshire. Below is a story contributed by Grace (Williquette) Peters ’13, MBU Admissions Advisor and Biblical Counseling graduate with a cross-cultural studies minor, that summarizes the chapel message.

The Purpose of Music

The Spanish class shifted in their chairs, listening twice to Gabriel Rodriguez’s chapel message on the purpose of music, first in the Puerto Rican’s native tongue and then repeated by interpretation into English. Rodriguez is Maranatha’s 2014 Artist Series concert performer, a classical guitarist who earned his bachelor’s and master’s at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico and teaches at the Puerto Rico Baptist College. For Spanish chapel, however, which meets every Thursday, Rodriguez chose not to play his music, but rather to talk about the biblical purpose of music. “Before we can talk about what kind of music is the correct kind, we have to talk about what is the purpose of music,” Rodriguez explained. He chose Colossians 3:16 as his text.

Music is powerful and, therefore, cannot be taken lightly when it is a part of worship. According to the words in Colossians, the words of Christ must dwell in us and teach and admonish us through songs, hymns, and spiritual songs. “Music prepares our hearts for the message, but music already provides a message,” Rodriguez said, as Anna Witan and Allie Hull interpreted his words for those in the audience who could not understand Spanish.

Gabriel Rodriguez

“The first thing of importance is that we must be sure the words [of the songs we sing] actually reflect Christ’s words,” noted Rodriguez. Christians should lament the fact that, more often than not, they don’t analyze what they are singing. When the doctrine of our music is not correct, the words of Christ can no longer “dwell in hearts,” and what resides there instead is false doctrine.

Rodriguez continued to explain that singing is not only the prelude to the message of God’s Word, it should be part of the message. Both the object and source of singing lies in the same Person, the Holy Spirit, who uses Christ’s words dwelling in us in song as a tool to controlling our hearts. “The word ‘heart’ implies two things,” Luke Kettula and Joel Auchtung interpreted. “It implies that we bring our mind, our thoughts, and our emotions.” The mental aspect pushes Christians to consider what they are singing. Rodriguez reminded listeners, “The only way Christians will be exhorted and taught is if they are thinking about the words.”

Grace-filled singing combines joy and thankfulness to worship our Savior in reverence, as “the Lord is our primary audience,” Rodriguez pointed out. His audience laughed as he attempted to illustrate a melancholy choir member singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” in a state of depression. “Music should be emotional,” pointed out the speaker, while Marea Kazarovich and Saz Jibson continued to interpret. “Singing with grace” means that music is alive with gratitude, not solemn and dead.

Marea Kazarovich and Saz Jibson

Colossians 3:16 lists three kinds of music: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Gabriel Rodriguez reverted back to the Greek definition of each, explaining that “psalms” were the book of Psalms put to music. “Hymns” tend to be more structured. Ben Flegal, a Greek and Spanish student, interpreted that the structure of hymns typically includes melodies on bars and lines. Finally, “spiritual songs” are in a more general category, but relate to almost anything sung that is spiritual. The categories allow for a plethora of musical options, but also keep the singer’s mind and voice engaged in praise to God.

Singing does glorify the Lord, and it shows our position as servants when we choose to sing “as unto the Lord.” Yet the purpose of music also includes the need for Christians to use songs to teach and to exhort themselves and one another.