The Power of a Song
A song can cheer the heavy heart,
Can bring Jehovah praise;
A song can lighten daily loads,
And help us walk God’s ways.
Yes, songs have power. Some have power for good and some have power for bad. Which kind of songs do you sing?
Never before has this earth heard so much singing of songs as today. Not only by individuals themselves—with or without instrumental accompaniment—but also by means of jukebox, radio and television, and by phonograph and tape recorder. And in particular is the production of popular songs a multimillion-dollar business. There are baroque rock, folk rock, hard rock, jazz, blues and many other kinds of popular music and songs.
In times past the religious theme played a leading role in the songs people sang. In fact, musicologists tell us that Germany’s being such a musical nation is largely due to Martin Luther’s insistence that all in the congregations join in singing praise to God. And the prominent role that religious music played in the lives of the early settlers of America is to be seen from the very title of a history of music in the United States: From Jehovah to Jazz.
Today there seems to be a slight trend toward religious themes in popular music, but it is irreverent, as can be seen by the most ambitious album featuring it: “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” And we also read of the “New Rock: Bittersweet and Low.” However, as regards the mainstream of popular music the counsel of a writer in the New York Times Magazine is still apropos: ‘Parents, if you want to know what your kids think of war, drugs and sex, listen to the songs they sing.’
WHAT KIND OF SONGS?
Youth is impatient, it lacks the wisdom that knowledge and years of experience often bring. It wants to try everything, and it wants to do it now. The popular songwriters and singers give youths what they want, or what they think they want, namely, sex, drugs and rebellion.
Romantic love has ever been one of the dominant themes of songs, but can today’s ‘love’ songs that encourage loose conduct be termed romantic? There are songs with such words as “Let’s spend the night together.” “He’ll hold you in his arms till you feel his disease.” “Tonight I’m yours.”
Drugs have been made very popular by modern singers. Thus, last October radio executives attending a White House conference on drug abuse were told to listen to the words of some of the songs sung over their own stations. Among the words they might have heard were: “I’m a real straightshooter, if you know what I mean.” “One pill makes you larger, one pill makes you small, but the pill your mother gave you did nothing for you at all.” Songs tell about taking a “trip” and use other language that unsuspecting parents would not recognize as having to do with drugs. Thus “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” refers to LSD.
Another theme with a bad effect that appeals to youths today is that of rebellion. Parents and police are ridiculed, taunted and mocked. Youths sing out: “We want the world and we want it NOW!” “We are the forces of chaos and anarchy.”
THE TARGET—THE HEART
A song has power, for it appeals to both mind and heart. It involves both intellect and emotion. How can such songs, with music to match, have any other than a bad effect on the youths that sing them over and over again? When they repeatedly feed their minds on such themes, can their hearts be inclined otherwise? And does not the heart produce the motivation that leads to actions? As Jesus Christ said: “Out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications.” And as one of his disciples showed: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin.” When a person sings again and again, and with feeling, words that express a craving for that which is immoral, is he not cultivating and making fertile in his own heart the desire for such things?—Matt. 15:19; Jas. 1:14, 15.
We cannot escape it. God’s Word is true: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” Far from ‘pummeling the body’ to keep it under control, which is what the apostle Paul said he had to do, the singing of such songs feeds its low tendencies, and makes it still harder to do what is right. (Gal. 6:7; 1 Cor. 9:27) Singing of such popular songs, because of the influence on mind and heart, causes one to be “fashioned after this system of things,” the very thing Christians are commanded not to do.—Rom. 12:2.
THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE
It is not as though there are no other songs available. There are. It is simply a matter of discriminating, even as one should do in regard to what one eats and what one reads. There are ever so many fine songs that express noble, idealistic sentiments in the field of folk, standard and semiclassical music that can be enjoyed by anyone.
Also let it be noted that the songs published by the Watchtower society, as they appear in their songbook, “Singing and Accompanying Yourselves with Music in Your Hearts,” are truly beautiful, of great variety and emotionally satisfying as well as spiritually upbuilding. They are a power for good, for by singing them you will at the same time be heeding the command to ‘continue considering whatever things are true, righteous, chaste, lovable and virtuous.’—Phil. 4:8.
Just as parents have the obligation to see to it that their children are fed properly, and given moral guidance in harmony with God’s Word, so too they have the obligation to safeguard their children against singing songs or playing music the words, mood and spirit of which run counter to Bible principles. By taking this matter seriously, by doing something about it, parents will save themselves many a heartache and regret and will safeguard the spiritual interests and well-being of their children.—1 Tim. 4:16.