Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His day is marching on.
I have read His fiery gospel writ in rows of burnished steel!
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you My grace shall deal!
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,”
Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free!
While God is marching on.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
A comparison of four classical composers, with observations on how their music either helps uplift the soul to God, or draws the mind down to wallow in the things below.
1 – Johann Sebastian Bach: The Harmony Of Logos
Examples of Bach:
Brandenberg Concerto No.3:
Bach’s beautiful choral arrangement of the Lutheran hymn “By The Rivers Of Babylon”(“An Wasserflüssen Babylon”):
Toccata & Fugue:
Bach’s music describes in vivid sonic detail the reality of God’s divine order and eternal truth. There is seemingly no phrase or note in his music not written to this one end; all has distinct purpose. There is no waste; and everything is addressed in a most dignified manner. In Bach’s music, the Light is spoken of with awe and reverence; and the darkness is spoken of within the context of God’s mastery over all. There is pure joy in the Lord, with nothing trite or frivolous. There is pure fear of the Lord, with no hint of despair. There is no glorying in man’s thoughts or strength; but much rather in God’s wisdom and power.
Bach is (among other things) the great exegete of the keyboard, and his extensive repertoire lays out for us, as it were, the divinely appointed boundaries of every note’s potential use in relation to another, with every measure of his many compositions effortlessly reflecting his own remark that “harmony is close to Godliness”. There is no flirtation with musical subversion or mindless dissonance; and the occasional unusual sound is employed only to serve the well-being of the hearer as far as it reflects the realities of God’s truth within the created order of the music.
“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”
– Johann Sebastian Bach
How well indeed did his music fulfill that saying! | |
2 – George Frideric Handel: The Sound Of Majesty
Examples of Handel:
Overture, from Messiah:
Comfort Ye My People, from Messiah:
Overture, from Alexander’s Feast of the Power of Music:
A contemporary and fellow countryman of Bach (though they never met), Handel’s music is hewn from the same substance, with an ever-present consciousness of honoring God’s glory. There is always a sense of divine majesty in his compositions, by which the sensitive hearer is at times made to feel that they tread on holy ground – and this without either pretension or any sense of overbearing forcefulness on the part of the music: it simply speaks for itself when played, as truth always does when uttered.
The instrumentation alone in his famous work “Messiah” can easily take one into the very holy of holies if the soul is prepared to heed its call; and the accompaniment of prophetic scriptures borne upon its heavenly melodies carries an anointing unparalleled in most hymnody. There is often a hush of awe which falls upon even the most secular of audiences when these pieces are performed in succession. That particular work was reported to have been written by Handel in the course of approximately 30 days (in its base form, without many of the large choral parts – still an astounding feat). | |
3 – Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Self-Interest Of Man
Examples of Beethoven:
Piano Concerto No.1 – Allegro Con Brio:
Cello Sonata No.3 in A Major:
Beethoven’s music still lives within the world of reality and truth, but it often does very little to consciously acknowledge such. There is still an adherence to the orderliness and natural beauty of things; but the element of divine authority is replaced with a largely unanswered search for meaning. Vast portions of his compositions are dedicated to meander through the deep woods of a lonesomely reasoning mind; and their occasional discoveries, though useful, are usually not revelatory. There is natural light, but always the bright sun is hidden behind a blanket of cloud; and the divine is so distant that it need not be directly spoken of.
In Beethoven the transcendent is lost to long rabbit trails of thought, and, at times, impulsive little adventures in melody. Not that anything is ever objectionable to the hearing – there is still a clear appreciation for beauty – yet it is limited to created beauty, and seemingly not the Creator Himself. Beethoven does eventually come to an appropriately resolved end in his compositions; but we are usually left wondering what ultimate reason there was for much of the journey. There is a distinct sense of spiritual unfulfullment despite the typical excellency of his musical form.
One always remembers the feeling of Beethoven’s music; but only a few of his pieces leave a definite impression – and even where they do, all of his music is strongly laced with the sighing melancholy of humanism’s emptiness. Even where he breaks through his troubles into a happy theme, it is always with a certain dullness of heart. Even if the light is brilliant without, it is as though the eyesight remains dim from within. Any soul not lulled to a certain numbness by much of his music is left wanting for a warmth and wholeness that was not granted; and who now shall sing to that soul of the brighter Day? | |
4 – Richard Wagner: The Madness Of Devils
Examples of Wagner:
Prelude of “Tristan und Isolde” – which has been cited by some as an early inspiration to Nietzsche’s trajectory of thought.* It is a daunting and tiresome listen:
The Ride of the Valkyries – known to often evoke in men a heightened desire for war and pointless worldly conquest:
Much of Wagner’s music (particularly as heard above) is the expression of the subversive amoral philosophy of will-to-power. There is no reality or truth there except whatever the soul desires to conquer and call its own. As an excellent example of this Satanic mindset, the starting notes of “The Ride Of The Valkyries” sound perfectly like the arousal of jealousy; and the ensuing journey is one of a constant blowing about in the swirling winds of the growing lust for power, which is the only meaning in this nihilistic worldview.
Therefore, its end is wanting of any real wholesome resolve; and throughout, the key signature changes frequently, but not often to a wholly related key. Its sense of mounting triumph has no source outside of what it has accomplished in itself by sheer will: the transcendent is drowned out completely by self-glory. At last, it crashes to an end after a swift tumble into darkness, having left the listener’s heart in great alarm. And after its echoes die off in the ears, one is left with no new thing to contemplate, no melody by which the soul is given a path toward the Logos of God. The divine is utterly cut off; the soul (if it has trusted the music) is left open to the first thought or spirit that may seek to lead it astray.
It is also worth noting that this Wagner, the composer, was a great personal influence upon Nietzsche, the philosopher; and a hefty portion of Wagner’s music certainly does seem to subvert divine order, just as the philosophy of that madman, leaving in its wake the chaotic void into which he himself no doubt gazed. | |
There hasn’t been a time since the fall of man when music was not a battleground for men’s souls. | |
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
*For some additional interesting information on this subject matter, listen to this interview which I came across recently. He lays out the history of the subversion of music in the late classical era quite well, and particularly touches upon the relationship between Wagner and Nietzsche. | |
** I do not own any of the music or audio used in this post; it is herein used for reviewing purposes only. **
The immensity and depth of the anointing into which the Holy Spirit longs to baptize God’s children is such that words too holy to be spoken, songs too holy to be sung, and deeds to holy to be done might yet be able to become spoken and sung and done through we as His broken vessels – if we only will allow ourselves to be so shattered by His revelation to us. He would put a new song in our mouths, if only we stopped using them to make excuses.
The Body of Christ is not comprised of mere curiosity seekers; it is comprised of living martyrs. If curiosity seekers come into a meeting of believers and their curiosity is not soon turned into conviction, how can we claim that the Spirit of God is working in our midst? Our sensitivity ought to be toward the Seeker and Judge of men’s souls, not merely the “felt needs” or curiosities of of men.
Men who only want their endless questions constantly answered ought not to be the legacy of our faith, for such is not the faith of Christ. But men who long to know their God and are only satisfied with His likeness are what allow the authority and power of Christ into the midst; and with an army of such as these, God cannot be ignored on the earth, and men quickly run out of questions in the light of His countenance. For one who has seen the face of the Lord, even in the face of another man, has been given the final answer of all, and now has but to unravel it for the rest of eternity, if he so humbles himself.
Christ is coming for a glorious church, one beaming with His countenance. This cannot be its state so long as it exists to satisfy the demands of men who neither see nor desire to look upon Christ the LORD.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. For the law being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 (LITV)
A man cannot overemphasize his total inability to please God in and of himself; but there are those who struggle to obey God because they overshadow the cross of Christ with the ruinous heap of their recurring sins. This in itself is actually a fleshly self-centeredness, it is a faithless sin to be repented of in view of God’s mercy. For if one fears and delights in the Lord, including the sufficiency of His work and a trusting in His desire to continue it, then that same one delights in nothing less than the glory of God’s Name; and to obey the Lord then becomes a joy despite one’s existing shortcomings.
Only by this does one draw near to God in such a way that his personal faults and long-entrenched sins can be overcome in the Lord’s ever-nearer presence; for this honors the Holy Spirit and invites His power. But when our obedience is about ourselves, and not all about the Lord of Glory, then it is not true obedience anyways, and will ironically benefit us nothing. The Lord calls us not to the limit of our means, but far beyond, where we have no means but He Himself. The fruit of the Spirit is not invoked by the striving of the flesh.
For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither can it be. And those being in the flesh are not able to please God. But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His.
Romans 8:5-9 (LITV)
And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarmers having a soul of life; and let the birds fly over the earth, on the face of the expanse of the heavens.”
Genesis 1:20 (LITV)
The life of God must begin its reign in the heart of the creature – in the earth which has passed through water and the Spirit. We saw by the third day that such is the case, on which day life sprang up to be observed: rooted from the ground below and reaching heavenward, bearing fruit and perpetuating its own kind through the giving over of its own precious seed once more to the ground. For it is in dying to the things of earth held precious that more and even greater things are able to be sown unto reaping.
Yet that is still not the end of maturity for the making of the new creature in Christ; it turns out only to be the furnishing for that which is yet to follow. The earth (or for our purposes here, the heart) which has given itself to the bearing of good fruit welcomes the inner radiance of Christ and the rule of His light in all seasons (day four), capacitating His new creation to host deeper and higher expressions of God’s life.
And God created the great sea animals, and all that creeps, having a living soul, which swarmed the waters, according to its kind; and every bird with wing according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:21 (LITV)
“…having a soul of life… ..having a living soul…” – This is the stage where the various expressions of the Life of God within the creature begin to take on a life all their own. The uniqueness of God’s manifold wisdom in each life is meant to so thrive. The expressions of life which grace the waters are not bound to the surface of them, though at times they may dance between the waters and the air, welcoming the onlooker to search out the depths. And they which grace the heavens in their flight are not continually bound to the surface of the earth, though they often rest near it to establish their dwelling and to multiply their kind. That is to say, where the Life of God is truly at work, it should with maturity become observable in a plurality of expressions; from the hights of heaven’s most glad worship to the depths of the most burdened intercession.
These new expressions of Life in God’s creation are of a higher and more glorious form than the aforementioned plants and trees. They in fact utilize those things simply as their food and as the furnishings of their abode. The good fruit of the ground becomes sustenance for the living creatures in the air and waters, just as the fruitful obedience of Christ to His Father was His daily bread. For the Life which bears the fruit of the Spirit through the creature becomes bread accessible unto others; and in so becoming, its vessel in turn is fed by feeding. What a glorious cycle to be caught up in! Give the Life of God, and you shall receive it in abundance! This descibes not a “karmic” principle by which to gain, but the ongoing sustenance of a selfless living creature unto the glory of He alone who raises it up. This is the evidence of the word of God at last finding freedom enough within us to begin evidencing itself as that unbound word which it truly is.
And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas; and let the birds multiply in the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning the fifth day.
Genesis 1:22-23 (LITV)
There must, by obedience to every command of the Spirit, develop a harmonious melody of free and spontaneous Life within the creature; each part properly complimenting the other as every wonderful decree of God sets its rhythm. The whole of the new creature cannot operate with perfection where any one of its parts is absent or broken in function – this applies both to an individual child of God as well as to the body of Christ. The body is either built up or torn down according to the obedience of the parts, and likewise the parts are either edified or torn down according to the obedience of the whole. By this, the whole is made fit for the King of Glory to fully enter in: the very Son of God, unto whose image the conformity of the redeemed is predestined. And shall the elect continue giving themselves over to that perfect will of God? Before us this choice continually lies.
As Peter wrote to those of like precious faith:
The Lord of the promise is not slow, as some deem slowness, but is long-suffering toward us(the church),not having purposed any of us(the church)to perish, but all of us(the church)to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with rushing sound, and having burned the elements will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be burned up. Then all these being about to be dissolved, what sort ought you(the church) to be in holy behavior and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of God, through which the heavens having been set afire will be dissolved; and burning, the elements will melt?
2 Peter 3:9-12 (LITV)
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
Prior to the formation of these lights within the heavens of the creation, the express light of God began overtaking its inner darkness from without. This is good for a season; but light shining from outside cannot reveal much to the eyes of the creature regarding the seasons, nor effectively convey the signs of the times. Such light from without indeed begins a good work, even unto the bearing of some fruit (see previous post); yet there must become an undying flame of the light shining from within, by whose guidance a good witness is truly obtained.
Christ Jesus came to us at first as a light from without – Emmanuel, God with us: external to men. This was necessary so that He might initiate the process of our conformity unto His image; but it was also necessary that He went back to the Father, so that we might now receive the gift of God’s mystery: “which is Christ IN you, the hope of glory.” Without the indwelling of the Son within, there is no continuation of His making us evermore His own. Men who have only teaching from without, and even a perfect example before them, still can only passively observe; they cannot become with these alone. There must be that excellent law of the Spirit of Life at work; for that Life is the Light of men.
Because it is God who said, “OUT OF darkness Light shall shine,” who shone in our hearts to give the brightness of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure IN earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not fromus…
2 Corinthians 4:6-7
The Light of the world now begins to take definite shape “IN the expanse of the heavens” as the Sun of Righteousness. This is the same expanse created on the second day, all contained within the created order – or for our purposes here, within the creature. This formation of light is the preperation for God’s Life to not only bring forth tender shoots or stately trees of the ground, but also to be found freely moving upon its earth and soaring in the midst of its heavens. (Again we see that each day is dawned upon with the intent of preparing for the wondrous work of the next.)
And God made the two great lights – the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night – and the stars.
The day is seen in the rising light of the Daystar of Christ Jesus’ indwelling; and the night remains in places where His light is only yet dimly reflected. The day of the creature is now defined by the express shining of His indwelling Spirit in the expanse He made between the waters, all beckoning up the fruit of our ground and keeping watch upon every matter within reach of His rays. And even the night of the creature is continually encroached upon by the Light of its world through the reflective nature of the lesser light; and with the Light embraced, the Day of the Lord is draws ever the more at hand, when “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Rev 22:5)
“…and the stars.” – Not only does the moon reflect the sun’s rays into the night, but now also the Light of Life shines in from fellow vessels, appearing as stars in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, bearing witness to the Truth through a realm devoid of light and substance. These also provide an additional measure of guidance in the traversing of our own earth and waters in the night seasons; and they cause us to marvel at the boundless wonders of the Almighty who placed them in His own heaven, calling them out each by name to the praise of His glory.
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
“And let them be for signs…” – His children are for signs and wonders in Israel (Isa 8:18). Every faithful conduit of God’s light, both from within and without the new creature, serves to confirm His will and speak His word in season and to reveal the way which pleases Him as steadfast markers in an expanse blackened by sin; as voices in the desert ever preparing the way of the Lord. Behold, He cometh!
And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
“…to rule over the day and over the night…” – This stage of God’s work within us characterized by Light shining forth from within gives way to His very present and active rule: the law of His Light becoming an inescapable operative principle. Up until this fouth day, God has illuminated, divided, and disciplined waters; He has established ground, and even borne some good fruit in us with relatively low responsibility on our part. But a good Father desires His children to take what light has been given thus far and continually use it to discover what more He has hidden away in the deposit entrusted to them.
“…and to separate the light from the darkness.” – A child of God is one being marked by the growing distinction between light and darkness. Our response to the piercing, the reflecting, and the guiding of His light will determine how much more we become made in His image; for the eye that is not single to this one purpose of God in Christ has left the creature full of great darkness. His children are those of Light, of the Day; they are to remain walking as such. The wise are not content to rest upon the good of yesterday as today’s assurance, for it cannot sustain what God has prepared further in advance; but the reward of today inspires hunger for tomorrow’s blessed obedience. There remains yet room within the heights and depths of the creature to be filled with all manner of His Life, and that in abundance.
All is seen by the Day of the Lord appearing in the heart. – Francis Howgill