Music Through the Eyes of Faith, Chapter 2

Music Through the Eyes of Faith, by Harold Best, is a book I re-read every few years. Dr. Best is Dean Emeritus of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and his book should be required reading for every Christian musician.

I'm embarking on another reading of Music Through the Eyes of Faith and over the coming weeks will be sharing some thoughts. These posts won't be a formal review and will not attempt to be comprehensive. I'll just be sharing items that stand out to me as I read - quotes, ideas, insights, and wisdom.

Previous posts in this series: Intro, Chapter 1.

Favorite Quotes from Chapter 2

The church has for centuries waged one brush war after another over the question of whether or how art and music “mean” — what it means to borrow styles, forms, processes, tunes, techniques, textures, shapes, gestures, and instruments from secular sources. Presently the debate centers around rock and New Age music. A few decades ago it was about jazz and popular ballads.
And so it goes and has gone, back through the decades and centuries, across cultures, and clean through denominational, sectarian, and doctrinal practices. Despite the numberless instances and their seeming diversity, one common thread runs throughout. At the time of the borrowing, the war rages, often quite bitterly and divisively. Then as time passes, the war dies down. The previously condemned become merely questionable, if not outright sacred. After all, what about pipe organs? (Or today is it synthesizers?) Now considered to be a churchly instrument, who would dare secularize it?
— p. 41

1. Music has no interior beacon that guarantees permanent meaning. Unlike truth, which is transcultural, absolute, and unchangeable, music can shift in meaning from place to place and time to time.
2. Even though music is wordless and deedless, the people making it and the contexts in which it is made are not. The more a piece of music is repeated in the same context, the more it will begin to “mean” that context.
3. There is a difference between being moved by music and being morally directed or changed by it.
— p. 54-56