Appreciating Art and Music – And Experiencing the Presence of God

“Send me, therefore, a man skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, and in purple, crimson and blue yarn, and experienced in the art of engraving, to work in Judah and Jerusalem with my skilled workers, whom my father David provided.

  • 2 Chronicles 2:7

These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the ark came to rest there.  They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them.

  • 1 Chronicles 6:31-32

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

  • –        Ephesians 3:14-19

“To appreciate art, one must either be born with an artistic sense or develop it by training.  Only a relatively few people have an innate sense of color, form, and harmony.  To such, a love for art comes naturally.  Without an artistic appreciation in one’s soul, visiting an art gallery can be a boring affair.  Likewise, to appreciate good music one must have music ‘in him’ or develop it.  Without a sense of music appreciation, it is possible to sleep through a symphony concert or a performance of the Metropolitan Opera.  So it is with the things of God.  Talk about God can become dreary and lackluster if God isn’t in you.  Church can become a drab thing and the Bible an irksome Book if the Holy Spirit does not illuminate your soul with His indwelling presence.  The wonderful thing about it all is that God has planned life so that if our hearts are dead to spiritual things, something can be done about it.”

  • Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham (May 25)

My love of art was passed down by my father’s mother.  When she had retired from being a one-room school marm and her son’s left the nest, she devoted her time to drawing sketches using charcoal.  She ended up taking art classes, with the painting above, of me with our beagles, as one of her assignments.  So, I posed for a painting before I picked up the brushes myself, but I never was very good.

My love of music came from my mother who taught me how to read and hear the tenor in church music, and she drug me to an occasional women’s music club meeting to ‘discuss’ classical music (very scripted discussion).  I occasionally sang, the first time at a bridal shower for my sister when I was 10 years old, Always.

But Billy Graham was so right with his description of Christianity without Christ in your heart.  I only suffered through the church services as a choir member, physical guide for the lead bass singer who was blind, and musical leader for the bass singer who would listen to my tenor and harmonize.  He already memorized all the words of the hymns that the church sang with regularity.  He had a recording of the special music for the anthems.

My mother made us read the Bible every evening before bed.  I knew all the Bible stories including the ones that were not covered in Sunday school, but they made little sense to me, even as a teen-ager.  To gain that understanding, I had to accept Jesus as my Savior.  Then, the Holy Spirit indwelled within me, providing guidance that led to understanding.  I love how Billy Graham calls it an irksome Book.  He capitalizes Book even though giving a non-believer’s epithet, calling it irksome.

The thing that bothers me are the modern “evangelists” that suggest that you take Jesus out for a test drive, just for the weekend.  They say that you will never give Jesus up if you do.  I learned that the commitment had to be an “All In” situation without reservations.  You do not get the Holy Spirit indwelling you unless you are His, unless you are among Jesus’ elect.  R. C. Sproul, in the video, that I attached to a post two days ago, says in the video that you must be redeemed by the Holy Spirit, a reformed theology term for the Holy Spirit convicting you of your sins.  Otherwise, as R. C. Sproul states, we do not seek God; instead, we run the other direction.  As the book of Judges says a couple of times, “There was no king and everyone did as they pleased,” and the track record was doing what God did not want them doing.

So, God brings us to the point where we want to seek Him, and He lets us make a conscious decision to trust in Jesus.  With me, I felt at that moment that I did not have any other choice.  I was in that much despair.  I had already “tried Jesus for a weekend,” and it did not work.

The following is me getting my geek on.  I love big band and swing music.  I provide three videos here for your enjoyment with a few historical and/or trivial notes.

In the first video, Danny Kaye plays the role of the band leader in the movie, A Song is Born (1948).  This is almost laughable in that his band features Benny Goodman on clarinet, Tommy Dorsey on trombone, Charlie Barnet on saxophone, Louis Armstrong on trumpet and singing, and Lionel Hampton on the vibes (vibraphone).  All five of these musicians were noted band leaders themselves at the time.  To the casual fan, Charlie Barnet may be the least known of these five, but Barnet went against segregation of bands.  This decision cost him being able to play in many venues, but his band made some beautiful music, including Cherokee, his signature hit and my high school alma mater’s fight song.  Louie Bellson, playing the drums in the movie, led a big band for a short time to showcase his wife, Pearl Bailey.  He was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame for introducing the technique of using two bass drums in the drum set.  Laurindo Almeida, who was a pioneer of the bossa nova, plays the guitar. This little clip provides a little tongue-in-cheek history lesson as well on the birth of New Orleans Jazz.

My younger son started in the band playing clarinet before he went on to everything else, many before graduating high school.  I had to include Artie Shaw playing his classic signature song, Begin the Beguine.

Swing Music mourned the loss of Glenn Miller who provided his talents to the Army Air Corps.  He was a Major and commander of the Army Air Corps band (special).  The plane that he was on was shot down when he was going to France to plan a Christmas concert for the troops, awarded the bronze star posthumously.  One of his greatest hits is shown in this video, Chattanooga Choo Choo from Sun Valley Serenade (1941).  Glenn Miller is playing trombone and leading the band.  The first man to sing with the bill turned up on his cap is Tex Beneke, who played saxophone for Glenn Miller and led the band after Glenn Miller’s death.  One little fact, there was very little improvisation in Glenn Miller’s music.  He wanted to be true to his fans who bought the recordings or listened on the radio, and insisted that if someone improvised on the recording, they’d play it the same way every time thereafter.  Trivia Note: A few years ago in our family’s fantasy football league, my wife and I had a team, Pennsylvania 6:5000, the only team in the league that had its own song and cheer, naturally built in.  Let’s hear it for the “Pennsylvania Six – Five – Oh-Oh-Oh!!!”

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

2 Comments

Add yours →

  1. Wow! Thank you for these wonderful old videos. I just watched all three.

    I love what you wrote here, too. These two lines especially:

    “The wonderful thing about it all is that God has planned life so that if our hearts are dead to spiritual things, something can be done about it.” — Billy Graham was right!

    “I learned that the commitment had to be an “All In” situation without reservations.  You do not get the Holy Spirit indwelling you unless you are His, unless you are among Jesus’ elect.” — Amen!

    God bless you and your family. Good night.

    Liked by 1 person

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