March 2012 Print

The Last Word

Technology now makes it possible to store the sound of large orchestras, the power of grand instruments, and the voices of popular singers within small little machines. Many people today carry these devices in their pockets, listening to music wherever they please, whenever they want, and however they choose. Never before has music been so easily accessible; never before have people listened to so much music. One might thus suppose that people today are more likely to cultivate a deep love and technical appreciation of the musical arts. Sadly, the opposite is the case!

The overwhelming abundance of music has generally not inspired its audiences to be more interested or creative; instead, it encourages its listeners to assume a deplorably passive attitude towards this art. Music has for many become little more than distracting noise, effectively silencing the artistic potential of an entire generation. The desire and, more importantly, the ability to sing and compose well are rare commodities. Likewise, the number of people able to play an instrument or even read music has drastically diminished.

Children, however, never listen apathetically and distractedly to music. Unlike adults, they naturally love to sing. The realm of song and sound is to them a world of pleasure. As soon as music starts, they will hum and dance; they will pick up loose spoons, buckets, and strings as instruments. Soon they are absorbed by the sounds and tunes and rhythms. Even when the music stops, the child instinctively continues. Music, however, is not mere child’s play. It allows man to translate his complex inner life into melodious, orderly sounds which can then be shared with others. Together we can rejoice singing a lively and exultant song; together we can mourn chanting a sad and solemn dirge. Music also allows adults, for a brief few moments, to transform magically into children again, taking pleasure in notes and tunes, creating and singing and playing—while simultaneously expressing profound truths.

Children, therefore, should be encouraged and supported in playing music. Adults, too, will find in it great hope and health, for good music fosters in old, callous, sinful minds a youthful joy and sincerity. Remember that our Lord, when presented with little children, noted, “The kingdom of heaven is for such,” and added that “unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 19:14 and 18:3).

Let us hope, then, to continue forever among the angelic choirs the beautiful hymn which Holy Mother Church now often places on our lips: “Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing ye to the Lord and bless his name!” (Ps. 96:1). Let us love good music, for it will certainly help us to love God as befits His true children.


Fr. Jürgen Wegner