Psalm 57 reminds us of those most difficult times in our lives when we are “surrounded by lions greedy for human prey, their teeth are spears and arrpws, their tongue a sharp sword. . . . they laid a snare in my path, they dug a pit ahead of me.” Perhaps our lions come from outside—our co-workers, our families, our wounded past. Perhaps the lions are internal ones—our compulsions, our addictions, our negative thinking.
But what is the response of the psalmist? Anger? The Fight? No. Rather, “My heart is ready, O God. . . . I will sing, and make music for you . . . awake lyre and harp . . . I will make music for you among nations.”
It is no accident that music forms a core part of our worship, and it always has been so. What are the psalms, but ancient hymns of praise, worship, anguish, despair, and hope. What are our Taize chants and our hymns of today? They are vehicles, means, methods for engaging all those “lions” about which the psalmist speaks. No social movement existed without a component of music and art. The civil rights marchers didn’t only march, but they sang as they marched.
We all have the songs of our lives—those meaningful tunes whose messages engaged us in those pivotal moments of our lives. The internet, records, and cd’s provide us with the opportunity to access any of the music that has touched our lives. And each time we celebrate the liturgy in music and song, we let the power of art touch our very being.
Ars longa, vita brevis. The songs we sing, the psalms we pray, can be vehicles for prayer, healing, praise, and hope. Art has the power to slay the lions and heal our hearts.