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We measure eras with it. We cultivate friendships based on it. It floods our cars, fills department stores, creates a dining atmosphere, and plays a vital part of our entertainment centers. Commercials wouldn't be the same without it. Movies wouldn't contain that action-filled punch or that tear-gripping ending. This website wouldn't even exist.

I'm talking about music, the "art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition that elicits an aesthetic response in a listener" (American Heritage Dictionary). It outdates written history and even writing itself. As long as man has been able to produce sound, he has produced music. The quality of music simply differs to each listener in regards to taste and style.

I heard on the radio the other day that Japanese researchers studied the effects of music on children. Kids who had been exposed to music used better learning strategies when compared to their sheltered playmates. Their brains retained more information. Perhaps this study confirms the obvious. Countless pregnant mothers play Mozart and Bach compositions on their stereos, pointing the speakers to their enlarged bellies. Many parents fight to keep music programs running in their children's schools.

I developed a fascination with music at an early age. I constantly sang as a child, both at home and in the elementary school choir. Music concerts have been my choice form of entertainment since I was 14. A few years ago I decided to play the guitar. I played the flute, pursued vocal training through high school and college, and if Susan from sixth grade hadn't convinced me that only nerds sang in the junior high choir, I would have immersed myself in that realm as well.

There's something haunting about music, especially when one considers Satan's old employment as Lucifer, the chief cherub of music, the ultimate praise and worship leader. God fashioned instruments into his being. I wonder what heaven sounded like when he fell. Because there had to be a sound. I also wonder what that trumpet will sound like when Christ returns. To hear that tinny blast from eternal lips…what a masterpiece, what a symphony.

Even this eternal battle between God and Satan finds root in one of music's elemental structures: dissonance. That clashing of two notes sitting too close to each other. It's the tension I long for when I think of music, especially choral music. In dissonance, I produce one sound as an alto while the sopranos sing out another sound. When the sounds congeal in the atmosphere they bring a delightful shivering. You wonder which note will win, because one note always does. The dissonance must find release. Our ears long for it. And when that release comes, the resolving note rings clear, unpolluted by conflict. The lone note receives more appreciation and attention after such turmoil. If music were constantly unhindered by conflicting notes, I for one would take the music for granted. With dissonance comes a fine-tuning of the musical ear, a perfecting of one's ability to detect harmony.

We can see this tension as a mirror to the heavenly battle between God's angelic hosts and the demonic forces. Picture the face-off: two swords mashed together, forming a stiff X, muscles and tendons heaving at the pressure. In the grand scheme of things, our Lord Jesus Christ has already won the war. So when the demonic swords release (not "if" but "when"), the heavenly songs will ring strong, and I can almost guarantee a level of immense delight. I'll certainly show enough elation for 12 angels.

The dissonance must find release. God has ordained it. And I'm appreciating this quality more and more these days, in both my music and my spiritual walk.
- Hollie Stewart
September 2003
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