Music Through the Eyes of Faith, Chapter 3

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: IntroChapter 1, Chapter 2.


Favorite Quotes from Chapter 3

Within this huge array of worldwide music making, the church is arguably the most musically diverse body in human history. Over its chronological life and throughout its nearly numberless multicultural practices, it has thought up, borrowed, imitated, stolen, adapted, and paraphrased more kinds of music than any other collection of people.
— p. 64
We should cherish diversity because God does. God not only imagines and creates with endless variety, God calls good everything in the creation. Everything has its uniqueness, its place, its meaning, usefulness, and its interdependence. Thus unity and diversity are aspects of each other.
— p. 65
Some things are more beautiful, more complex, or more advanced than others, but this fact does not undo the principle of completeness and integrity with which each thing is made. Thus while some things may be said to be more beautiful, more useful, or more advanced than others, this does not mean that the lesser things have no right to exist or in God’s view are unworthy. God notes every sparrow’s fall and numbers every hair on our heads.
— p. 66
The story of Pentecost goes further than its historical reality. It is also a parable that urges us into the knowledge that the gospel is comfortable in any culture and its message finds easy residence in the languages, cultural ways, and thought styles (but not thought systems) of countless societies. In other words, whoever seeks to move a culture towards transformation by Christ must join it, participating in the transformation from within.
— p. 66-67
Thus God does not want to hear only Beethoven and Ken Medema or see just Renoirs, Vermeers, and Wyeths. God does not want to be limited to Christian rap or Pakistani chant. God wants to hear the whole world in its countless tongues and amazingly diverse musics making praise after praise. God accepts not only the offerings of a highly trained choir, but also the song of the arrow maker in Brazil. Furthermore, with more patience than we can imagine, God awaits entirely new songs sung for the first time from a tribe in Cambodia, a Mexican barrio, and a Scottish hamlet.
— p. 67
The people who have taken the time to look deeply into a huge assortment of musics, along with the people who make them, are the only ones who have earned the right to talk about standards, because they have already experienced unity and are in the process of keeping their brothers and sisters. In this sense, the entire musical world becomes one huge, mixed, and motley outcry — of joy, nearly unbearable brokenness, and fervent hope. For the Christian music maker, the task is quite simple: diversity and love and, only then, quality. This order will not dilute standards or dull critique. Instead it will position the most perceptive music making and the wisest teaching in a way that will comport with the very gospel that all music making is meant to celebrate.
— p.82