In 2007 the movie “August Rush” was released and featured a great cast headed by Robin Williams who played Maxwell “Wizard” Wallace and the young Evan Taylor who played the boy, August, in the film.
Despite the harsh circumstances of August’s birth and life on the streets as a child, August had a gift that develops and blooms by the end of the movie. August believes you can hear music everywhere and the Wizard affirms that. August says, “Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind…in the air…in the light. It’s all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do…is listen.”
August takes us into a broader understanding of music. It’s not only about notes on a page, or an instrument playing, or someone singing. Music is everywhere around us all the time and based on his definition, we often miss it.
A dictionary defines music this way:
“Vocal or instrumental music (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion; a sound perceived as pleasingly harmonious.”
At its root music is “sound that conveys emotion” according to Jeremy Montagu of the University of Oxford. Our definition of music can sometimes be too narrow. It can be a mother humming to a baby some tune she has heard or one that just happens out of the well of her emotion for the baby. Early musical instruments could have been smacking stones or sticks together, perhaps in a rhythm.
No one can say for sure when music began, but it might seem it has been with us always and that God was the creator of music. After all, He created birds and their varied songs bring us delight. He created the babbling brook that poets often refer to as “singing.” It seems that music is one of our responses to Him since it creates a connection between the producer of the music and the listener that includes an emotional reaction.
God actually encourages and admonishes us to sing and make music at various places in scripture. The book of Psalms contains a great deal of music and the word “psalm” comes from the Greek word meaning “to sing, to strike lyre.”
“Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.”
Psalm 147:7 (NIV)
As early as Genesis 4:21 (NIV) we meet perhaps one of the first musicians, Jubal, the son of Lamech, who is described as “the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes” or in the NLT “the first of all who play the harp and flute.”
We can speculate a great deal. We can also lament different types of music or lyrics and debate what type of music most pleases God in worship, but perhaps when we do that we miss one of the basic things about it. God created music and the ability of creation to make music to praise Him, but also remind us of Him.
Anything so beautiful that God created can spur the one who sought to be above Him to try to pervert or distort it to rob Him of praise and honor.
In the movie “August Rush”, the Wizard played by Robin Williams is far from being a godly man and yet he says something to August about music in his effort to define it:
“You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, every where, even the stars.”
Mankind has developed a myriad of instruments over time to play and create different musical sounds. Most of us have preferences for those we prefer as well as the styles of music we enjoy.
I confess that I enjoy a fairly wide variety of musical sounds and styles, but on a recent summer evening my husband and I attended a concert featuring an orchestra of more than 100 pieces. As the music swelled and ebbed featuring one instrument and then another to open a new sound the composer chose, it was easy to be feel swept away by the grandness of it all. It evoked movement of feet, hands, and heads, but also heart, mind, and spirit.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”― Plato
“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” ― Leo Tolstoy
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ― Aldous Huxley
Music often creates a story and sometimes it tells a story about us in the process.
Quotes such as these remind us of what August Rush was telling us:
“Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind…in the air…in the light. It’s all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do…is listen.”
God wants to remind you He’s there.
Can you hear it?
Can you hear Him?