04 Oct “The Power of Song” by Stephen Hutchins
I was in the shower recently when a random song from my childhood came into my head. It was a hymn about the mercy of God that I recall singing from my earliest remembrances of church. It became an earworm, a welcome one though, for me for the remainder of the week as I thought about the truth it sought to convey.
It also reminded me of the legacy that my parents, especially my mom, left me in their love for music. There was always music in our home and whenever there was a trip to be made in our car of any distance that might last more than 15 minutes, my mom would bring some music books of songs she was learning, or just liked, and she would sing. Her music was solely spiritual and included hymns, southern gospel, sacred, and contemporary for her generation. In those days of my youth, there were no cassette, cd, or mp3 players in every car and radios were still an “option” on which my parents wouldn’t splurge. Do the math. We were exposed (captives?) to a vast library of song.
“Let the word of Christ richly swell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual song, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 (NASV)
Whether it was her primary intent or not, she was teaching us and admonishing us through song. This byproduct has left an indelible mark on me throughout the years as I recall some of those obscure songs, which lead me to reflect on some powerful truths about our Savior and Christian living.
Somewhat curiously, I wasn’t blessed with an ability to sing. That gene that gave my mom and even my dad the ability to sing somehow skipped my generation. If you’ve stood near me during worship, you can attest to this. This lack hasn’t left me immune to the love of music or the power of song and it became a staple in our home in the raising of our own children.
As for that aforementioned earworm? It was a hymn whose first line starts: “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like wideness of the sea….” I suspect the hymn writer might have been reflecting on Psalm 103, which is full of pictures of God’s mercy towards us, and specifically verse 12 which reads: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Many a Bible teacher has noted the psalmist’s use of “east vs. west” as opposed to “north vs. south” to illustrate the vastness of God’s mercy since east never meets west on a map as north and south do. It’s another way of saying the distance is infinite. Or wide. Who knew that after some 50 years of singing that song, I’d come to reflect on God’s mercy and Psalm 103, and in the shower of all places.