On the bookshelf/couch/bedside table lately- Te Deum: The Church and Music by Paul Westermeyer. I am really not far enough to give a full review or concluding thoughts. Mostly I appreciate a few things about the beginning of my reading.
1) It is always helpful to have a bit of history. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, if you join a conversation at noon that started at 8 am, you’ll be missing important parts of the conversation. This book is filling in some of the morning conversation for me.
2) Westermeyer brought out a few keys areas of theology that will necessarily be reflected in music choices: Who Christ is (divine, human, both- does our music suggest mystery, earthiness or both in “paradoxical tension”?); What Christ did (provide an example, save from brokenness, conquer sin and death, all of the above- does our music stir us to action, reflect on the brokenness and suffering of the world, or celebrate a victory?); he also reflected on perspectives of the church (ecclesiology) and our relationship to the kingdom of God (eschatology) (pp. 52-55).
3) Westermeyer emphasizes the intrinsic nature of music to humanity and its importance in worship in sections like this: “Joy inevitably breaks into song. Speech alone cannot carry its hilarity. The physical equipment we use to laugh is the physical equipment we use to sing. From laughter to song is a small step. To praise God, the highest form of joy, is to make music… The same can be said for sorrow, the opposite of joy. Sorrow also inevitably breaks into song. Speech alone cannot carry its moan. The physical equipment we use to cry is also the physical equipment we use to sing. From mourning to song is but a small step. To cry out to God in lament, the deepest form of sorrow, is to make music” (p. 28).
What a gift music is.