Someone once told me there are three kinds of prayer:
“Help me, help me, help me”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you”
I’d like to add a fourth to that: Music
For me, music is the dimension that enhances prayer. Do you have a favourite hymn? Why is it your favourite? Are the words meaningful? Does the tune move you? Does it bring back memories? If there were no music, would you remember the words? I dare say there are songs you remember from childhood that have stayed with you precisely because of the melody.
In times of trouble, we turn to music. When words cannot express what we want to say, music can empower and lift us. Or it can commiserate, expressing our deepest grief.
In times of deep sorrow, we often turn to music. Protesters sing for unity and also to get their message across.
In times of great joy we turn to music. Most celebrations would be bland without it.
In times when words cannot suffice, music can fill us with a deep, spiritual longing.
When I behold a beautiful moment, something in the deepest part of me responds with rhythm and melody. An amazing sunset, a new born (of almost any species), a deep moment of spiritual awakening. The saturated green in the forest after a rain. It’s not anything I can explain. And that is exactly the point.
Music can spring from inside, as it often does with me. Or, in listening, it can sweep you away. Many of the arts depend on music to enhance the moment or the message. What would a movie or stage play be without strains in the background causing excitement or contemplation, danger or excitability?
I’ve only recently realized that not everyone has some sort of melody floating around in the brain at all times. I can’t remember a time that I’ve been without it. But I dare say that every one of us holds some music that moves us in our hearts. And when the words fail us, that music is your prayer.