, , , , , , , ,

The following is a text of a short address I gave for the Grandparent’s Welcome convocation at the school for which I work. I’m a first-year faculty member and a third-year teacher. I teach Pre-K thru 5th grade this semester and will add 6th grade next semester (just to give you some context for what I do).

The mission verse for the school this year is Proverbs 20:11 and I wrote a song using the text (NIV of 1984) to help the students internalize it. When I finished the address, the students stood up, faced their grandparents and sang the verse, accompanied by another faculty member.

Good morning, students and welcome, grandparents.

I thought it would be good to say a few words why I think music education is so important, especially in the context of a Christian education.

The longest book of the Bible is the Psalms. God’s people through the ages have used these songs and prayers to speak to their Creator. Just as the gift of language helps us articulate our love for Christ, both for His creation-act and for His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins, the gift of music works alongside language to give form to our praise. Many of us have had the privilege of singing such songs as “How Great Thou Art” and hearing of the majesty of the creator’s work, both in nature and in redemption and feeling a sense of awe and wonder at the wondrous love of Christ.

But far from being simply a tool to give someone an emotional high, music is a God-given, God-endorsed memory aid. In Psalm 119:105, the songwriter writes, “Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” It would seem to be no accident that a songwriter would speak of being reminded of truth that they were singing; many of us would be able to point to times where, perhaps at a funeral of a loved one, a song long-forgotten is sung and, in the process of singing, we discover it’s not nearly as forgotten as we thought.

Our mission verse this year is Proverbs 20:11 and you’ll hear your students sing it shortly. The truth contained in it, however, does not stand by itself. The faculty here is far more concerned with the condition of your students’ hearts than in outward obedience. This verse, for covenant children, acts as a litmus test for their own hearts. It provides a mirror for their actions beyond that of a general moral compass; it points them to the fact that when they are united to Christ by faith, the fruit of the Spirit will show in their lives for others to see. They will show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, all because the Spirit of Christ not only dwells in them, but speaks to them through His word…in verses like Proverbs 20:11. And when these fruits are lacking, they will have this Scripture on their minds and hearts, encouraging them to repent, to turn away from their envy, hatred, fits of rage, and selfish ambition—turning instead toward Christ, who works in them to will and to work for His good pleasure.