Musical Prayers in India

Funny where musical prayer can take you. I went to India last fall to staff and teach in a seminar on cross cultural worship – presenting the gospel and worship in cultural ways that are familiar and appealing to each culture. It’s important to not make Christianity the ‘white man’s religion’. My soap box is that we missionaries too often package our own culture with the good news and end up promoting that as much as we promote Jesus’ great gift. When I hear Hillsong or Jesus Culture songs being sung in Indian and Africa I know people are enjoying the ‘modern Western’ ways, but is the message really getting down into their hearts? Don’t get me started.

Young Indian men with testimonies of how God changed their hearts toward their indigenous sounds. Now they incorporate them into their worship bands.

Young Indian men with testimonies of how God changed their hearts toward their indigenous sounds. Now they incorporate them into their worship bands.

playinglovefeast

Swiss guy on keys with worship jazz and Navajo American with native flute and prayer violin added in. What a mix.

Vino:lovefeast

What a joy to see old friends. I taught this gal violin in 2003 on the first Symphony of Nations training in Pune.

 

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Seminar was mostly men, but here is one brave graduate from England. Congratulations to all for stepping into the new and unknown.

Getting off my soapbox and back to musical prayer purposes – I always like to make the most of an opportunity, so while in India I scheduled a couple weeks in Bangalor thinking to join my musical prayers with those of India’s Christians – especially since Nov 30 was their National Day of Prayer. Surprised? I was also. Follow the link to see the Facebook posting.

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Photo by a new friend at Bangalores’ tea house, Chai 3:16. Its a warm friendly tea house where college students come to receive a generous cup of friendship served up with great tea.

I traveled to Bangalore with Karen Lafferty and we hooked up with an old friend of hers who runs a music school – they invited us to be guest artists along with our Indian friend Sujith Babu, for their end of the year student recital. I expected maybe 30 students at the most and a small audience of parents. OH NO – not in India! There were 130 students and their friends and families filled a 1200 seat auditorium two nights in a row. Wow.

 

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Singing and movement – wholesome entertainment

The violin class performing. I got to learn the theme from Slumdog Millionaire.

The violin class performing. I got to learn the theme from Slumdog Millionaire.

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This music school does things up in a big way – check out the 24 minion costume created by dedicated Moms. So cute.

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Karen and I with after the curtain call with leaders of India’ tomorrow.

These pictures of the ‘recital’ – more like a major production show the dedication and professionalism of the Harmony Music School.. The theme was movie music and the songs were carefully chosen to emphasize how God wants us to love and care for each other. Kudos to Sandi and Dan Oberoi for their excellent mentoring of so many young Indian children.

Dance, singing, instrumentals - this show had it all with excellence.

Dance, singing, instrumentals – this show had it all with excellence.

My musical prayer turned out to be for the lives of these young Indian children and for the future hope they hold for their nation.   I did get some more ‘traditional’ prayer in at Chai3:16 where many young people come to be trained and mentored in the love of God.  The staff are all volunteers and a small donation gets you a cup of tea.   This is a place I want to return.  It is right down the road from a great western style House of Prayer with 24/7 worship and prayer.

 

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Staff of Chai3:16, a tea house founded by Benny Presad.

Sujith was a great collaborator on this trip - he played in the concert and for worship at the prayer house. Thanks for your sensitive musical spirit, Sujith (pictured here with his harmonium of many colors)

Sujith was a great collaborator on this trip – he played in the concert and for worship at the prayer house. Thanks for your sensitive musical spirit, Sujith (pictured here with his harmonium of many colors)

 

Lastly – I’d say take whatever opportunities you have to bring your musical self and your prayer self together.   Here is a view off the top floor of my hotel where Sujith and I prayed and played frequently in the early mornings.   God bless India !!

View into the streets and everyday lives of the people of India.

View into the streets and everyday lives of the people of India.


 

 

Call 2 Worship

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Students of all ages gathered in the upper room to hear about ‘listening worship’.   We taught about how to musically tread water while waiting to hear which direction God would take our worship service and how to have one ear trained on Him and one ear on our instruments and the extra ear paying attention to the worshipers in our group.   Radical multi-tasking

 

photo 5Great team of multi-talented wacky women.  We came from three nations modeling unity and love for each other.  The Call 2 Worship is a seminar designed for local people of any nation wanting to learn more about leading worship.  We emphasize the heart of the worshiper and using our skill for His glory – not our own.   There were sessions of musical skill, team building, character of the worship leaders and ways to worship that go beyond singing songs.

 

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I bought a ‘Bawa’ from this man.   It has a mellow clarinet sound and is quite palatable to the Western ear.  Maybe I can use it on my album of musical prayers.

SON Performing Outreach in Norway

Aleslund, Norway 

When Alesund, Norway was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1905 they redefined the term ‘picturesque’ for the world of jigsaw junkies.   Houses and facades are painted in art deco motif of bright colors are reflected in the fiords littered with crafts of every description.

aleslundmapThe Symphony of Nations string quintet went to Alesund as musicians in residence at University of Nations’ art campus. During the several months residency they performed a total of twelve times.   Performances were held at the restaurant, Lyspunktet (translation – point of light,) and in churches and schools. Among some of their more challenging pieces was Grieg’s Holberg Suite and Vaughan William’s string quintet in 7/4.

aleslund harbor   “It was interesting how God put us together,” says group leader violist/violinist, Herrick Colby.  “Through prayer and patience God brought together an amazing team and really took care of us.”

Symphony of Nations is always interested in auditioning new recruits. Contact us for more information.

 

School Performance

School Performance

 

string quintet enjoying day off

string quintet enjoying day off

 

What a view to practice by

What a view to practice by!

 

Performing at Point of Light Restaurant

Performing at Point of Light Restaurant

 

WAYS WE USE MUSIC

APPLICATION #1 –  WORSHIP MUSIC

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High,  PS92:1

No argument there.  Worship is perhaps the most common use of music in the church – the one we think of first.   We have more worship bands now and fewer church choirs, but music has been in the role of worship since David played his harp.  God’s Word says He ‘inhabits the praises of His people’  so this worship application is strongly related to the ‘incarnational’ application – #3 below.   I love hearing God’s voice during worship and knowing He is right there beside me smiling at all my out of tune harmonies and hearing my heart cry for the concerns of  life.

Today there is a greater emphasis on corporate worship.   We are worshiping when we go to church and sing songs about loving God.   And maybe we listen to a sermon or two about how worship is a lifestyle – that everything we do we should do as unto the Lord thereby making our lives a worship unto Him.  Thats cool.

I wonder though if God would not be especially pleased if our worship was something personal that we offer in our intimate moments with Him.  It could be something simple like a whispered ‘you’re awesome Lord,’ or  a ‘WOW – thats a beautiful tree (or child or mountain or…) .   Whether we’re in the car, or at home alone, or even surrounded by the chaos of life happening, we can have that secret place in our hearts where there is an ongoing conversation with our Lover God..  That kind of worship is pleasing to Him and uplifting to us in a way different from corporate worship.

Application #2 – Music for Relationship

Mostly I get relationship out of teaching.  I’d like to play in a large group and that may happen, but right now I am pouring myself into students – young and not so young.   My goal is to teach the skill and train the spirit to prepare them to use their music for a communication tool with God.  It puts a whole new twist on teaching.

violin student performing

Playing for Family and Friends

 

As well as relationship, teaching also is a way of passing on what you’ve learned over the years.  I believe this generation of musicians will face special challenges both in and out of the church.  Just playing songs will not be enough.  Our worship will have to go deep to sustain us in the challenges we’ll be facing.   Our musicians have to be trained to hear God’s voice as they play.  They will need to step into even greater spiritual leadership.

Small group music party

Small group music party

Hospital Music Ministry

I went today for the first time to East Texas Medical Center to play for a friend who is battling cancer.  Her latest communication said that she is so tired of the fight.  So my emphasis musically for her was for comfort and good rest and energy to keep up the good fight.

comfort and renewed energy

 

What I learned today is:

1.  Always ask the patient what they are in mood for – quiet music, happy music, particular songs, old hymns?

2.  Be prepared with backing music on my small speaker – put in batteries cause there might not be easy to reach outlets.  You want to have set up be minimally invasive…quiet and quick.   Bring what you need – don’t expect the hospital to provide it.

3.  Create playlists sorted by type of music so you can find the kind of music you want to play easily.  Use a mute – the rooms are small.

5.  Ask nurses ahead of time if patient can receive musical guests.  Make contact with the Chaplain is possible.  Explain you are here to minister to the patients, not perform.

6.  Pray while you play – aloud and to yourself.  Trust Him to bring comfort.

Interesting Lady with Lots of Talent

 

 

He is the potter we are the clay

Creating a Unique God pot

 

I came across Rebecca Friedlander locally here in East Texas a couple years ago when writing an article on her unique ministry in churches using her potters wheel.  While forming a beautiful piece of pottery Rebecca teaches on each person’s unique value to the Father.   But her creativity goes way further.   I was impressed with her ministry of filmmaking and music writing and acting and recording…seems she does it all.    Occasionally we play together and I love it.

Rebecca  has two current projects I think are really special.  Check out the trailers. Music Pioneers Mentoring features veteran singer songwriters (some from here in East Texas like Dallas Holmes and Melody Green)  answering questions of young songwriters….passing on the wisdom of years of experience.

The second docudrama I recommend was done for an organization serving women with eating disorders in the fashion industry.   Rebecca wrote and sang the music, designed, directed and filmed the movie.   Pretty inspiring to see what one person  can do.     The Perfect Girl          Trailer is in top right corner.

Application #3 Incarnational Music

The mysteries of God have been revealed to man in many ways.  He is present in His miracles –  from the Red Sea opening  to water turning into wine.  He is present in His Word.  The rhema Word speaks directly to our heart.  He is present in the sacraments such as Holy Communion and even marriage.  God is mysteriously present in those representations of Himself.  God was fully present -incarnate – in Jesus.    So can our music contain God?  Probably not, nothing can contain Him.  But maybe He makes room for Himself to flow through.

violin and Bible

powerful combination

For years I have asked God to speak to people thru my music …to use my violin as His voice.  It has always seemed too much to ask – too impossible.  But sometimes when I play I can see people responding to His Holy Spirit.  They cry or laugh or just sit there with a silly smile on their face – or is that me with the silly smile?  When God shows up and ministers to hearts thru our music it is an incredibly happy thing.

Last evening I played at a local house of prayer with a few other random musicians – random because we did not know each other.   There was uncommon unity and I found myself swept away in the beauty of His presence.  Meaningless religious jargon is weak language, but being swept away is a good description.   Ever been overboard in whitewater?  It was like that.   As I played over individuals I knew to stop when they pulled out a journal or began to weep.  They were hearing his voice.

What can we do to prepare ourselves for Him to flow thru our music – for Him to show up?

  • Stay open to Him – keep our heart soft and ready
  • Let Him choose the when and where – let Him surprise us
  • Worship authentically while we are playing – guard against just performing
  • Remember our audience of One – the important One

 

Application #4 Does Music Really Heal?

Blue Violinist with white bird

Blue violinist Chagall

Supernatural Healing thru Music

I don’t pretend to have great experience with healing.  I believe God does supernatural things and there are amazing stories of His intervention which I believe.   I know when I play my violin people are soothed (if thats the kind of sounds I’m making) If when He created the universe He ‘spoke’ or ‘sang’ then it follows that the vibrations set up by music have an effect on the physical creation.   I have seen a soprano hit that very very high C and the lovely crystal glass shatter.  Something unseen is happening there.

Water respond to sound in a visible way.   Get the right frequency and the water trembles.   If our bodies are 70-80% water then they must also respond to vibration – MUSIC !   Sometimes when I play over a congregation I hear Him say to spend time on my lowest A note (1st finger on G string).   I look out over the group and see people responding emotionally as I play that A.   What is happening in their minds, hearts….even in their bodies?

Have you had experience with visible physical healing, prayer and music?  There’s lots written on it –  Some from hard core name-it-and-claim-it-faith-healers.   Some moving testimonials of supernatural healing.  But not many mention the role of music.   Music therapists are filled with testimonials of the value of music in treatment plans.  (You don’t have to know the Creator in order to benefit from His creation).  If we are not afraid as Christians to dip into the new age literature we can find a lot of stuff.  Filtering it through our knowledge of God’s character what can we learn about the relationship between sound and physical healing?

Music as healing RX

Simple RX

Here is a fun link I liked.   Have you found any special ones?

Facts Wrapped in Creativity

From the George Center of Music Therapy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksiBb2CEYvc

 

 

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5th Application Partnering in His Creation

earth harp music

Earth Harp strung from mountain to mountain

Music has many uses – ‘applications’. How many of these can we imagine?

The cosmos sings God’s song. In the beginning God spoke and it could well have been a song – just where on the frequency scale does God speak?     Lets imagine how that might have sounded.      On vimeo I saw the Earth Harp.   VERY interesting.  Click here to check out William and the Earth Harp.   When I hear those heavenly sounds my fingers itch to improvise along side.  To co-create with the Father.

music of cosmos

The song of creation

 

 

 

 

 

 

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