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Lady Pastor: Bible stories gain power through song

The Lady Pastor is a weekly column by Emily Carson, a Lutheran pastor in Stewartville. Visit her blog at www.theladypastor.com.

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It is marvelous to experience the Word of God come alive through music. Several times over the last few weeks, I have been struck by just how delightful it is to hear a story from the Bible told through song.

Biblical stories can be told in a multitude of wonderful ways — through poetry, film, art, and writing. All these forms are fantastic, but there is something especially moving about the power of the Bible and the power of music combined.

The summer musical of the Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota was "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." It knocked my socks off! It was such a pleasure to realize how accurately the musical tells the story of Joseph and his brothers from the biblical book of Genesis.

There was humor and great crowd engagement. All the actors, musicians, and crew members worked together to share a tale of grace, forgiveness, and family. The whole production was superb. The Bible came alive through music!

We are blessed to have congregation members share special music now and then at church. On a recent week, a teen named Heather played a piano rendition of Leonard Cohen's song, "Hallelujah." It is a piece that was made most famous by singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley. Heather shared a piano-only version.


The song can be interpreted in many ways. The lyrics allude to the stories of Samson and Delilah as well as David and Bathsheba. It is one of my favorite songs; it's filled with depth and beauty, and hearing it is very powerful. As Heather played, the Bible came alive through music.

Last month, the Minnesota All-State Lutheran Choir made stops in Rochester, Stewartville, and throughout the state. The songs this amazing choir performed were packed with biblical allusions. To hear them perform is a treasure.

On the particular Sunday morning that they joined us at church, the choir even sang some special songs to the kids during the children's sermon. One piece that especially captivated their attention was about a tax collector named Zacchaeus, who is described in the Gospel of Luke. The choir members sang and danced in a way that fully enamored the children, and the song really told the story of Zaccheaus! The Bible came alive through music.

There are so many ways in which music can be used to tell the stories held within God's word. No wonder there are literally hundreds of Bible verses about music and singing and playing instruments!

It's a gift to us all that there are so many forms through which we can experience the Bible. While it's great to read straight from the Good Book, we aren't limited to only one means of receiving the Word. May we continue striving to find new ways to share the good news in forms that speak to all God's people.

Related Topics: MUSIC
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