This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Laura, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily, here with me. Today we’re talking about a very fun topic—music and moms and motherhood. Before we get to that topic, we wanted to ask you guys real quick, if you wouldn’t mind taking about five minutes out of your day to give us an iTunes review? Sometimes when I am having kind of a discouraging day I will go and read those iTunes reviews, and I have literally started crying. Emily, have you ever felt the same?
Emily: I definitely have saved some on my phone before to remember, because I just love reading about what God is doing. Because Laura and I just sit at a table and record, and we don’t always get to know the result of what we’re doing. It is, therefore, just so amazing to see God work in and through something as simple as a podcast. It’s just awesome.
Laura: When we hear about you guys starting Bible studies, or getting back into the word for the first time, or that you’re communicating better with your husband, or whatever, it’s not credit to Emily and I. It is one hundred percent credit to God. But we are so thankful that he can use any little thing that we offer on this podcast in order to have the Holy Spirit transform your lives. Like Emily was saying, it’s just so fun to get a little peek into what God is doing, and so we read every single one of those. If you’re looking for how to do an iTunes review, we do have a quick tutorial on our website. It’s really simple and easy. Like I said, about five minutes of your time, and it really helps new women find our podcast. It is very important for iTunes to continue ranking us. Just like you know with social media, everything has algorithms; there are tricky little things that they do. We don’t know the half of it, but we know that reviews help. [Laughter]
Laura: If you don’t mind doing that, that would be great.
Emily: That would be awesome. We are really excited to be talking about music today, and I will admit I am not a very musical person. I’ve never been the type of person who’s like thing is to pick up an instrument and learn it. I think I was last chair in flute in middle school. [Laughs]
Laura: Although I think you have a history with the guitar, Emily? Is that correct?
Emily: Oh yes, I tried, and I am thinking about breaking it out for my kids because I think they will accept the poorness of my guitar skills. [Laughter]
Laura: They think anything is awesome. You can just tinker away on anything; I am playing the recorder at home, and it’s out of tune. I mean, can a recorder be in tune? I’m not really sure. [Laughter]
Emily: I have no idea. [Laughs] But what I love is that God has implanted an enjoyment of music in all of our hearts, in different ways. Even if we don’t consider ourselves as a super musical person, it can be something that really comforts me—if I am having a really difficult day—to listen to hymns, which have rich lyrics. Sometimes it just draws my heart back to the Lord in a way that is different than just the spoken word. Then the other night I was singing a goodnight song to my five-and-a-half year old, who sometimes is too cool for that kind of stuff. He was just like, “Mommy, I just love this.” It reaches their hearts and it’s so cool.
Laura: There’s something about music that just is a universal language for all of us. It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s at least some genre of music or some type of music that you love. It’s just part of the very nature of who we are as humans, and it’s amazing the power that music has—that fact that it can even take you back to a specific moment of your life or how your memory is triggered when you hear a certain song. The power of music is pretty amazing.
Emily: It’s one incredible gift that God has given us to use for worship. We obviously know that worship is much bigger than just music and singing. But singing and music is one way that we can respond to God, when we look at who he is, and we think on his character, and read his word. Sometimes the only appropriate reaction to that is to burst out in song, or to make a joyful noise. [Laughter]
Laura: Sometimes it might not be a beautiful noise, but it’s a joyful noise. Over here at least, for Emily and I. [Laughter] Before we get into the gospel, we want to just make one thing really clear. That there’s just a lot of theology involved in singing, and there have been whole books written on it. There are a lot of ways that we kind of went back and forth about how should we talk about it today. But we really just want to be clear that we’re mainly going to be talking about music and singing in the home—just for you as a mom with your kids and getting your husband involved. We’re not necessarily talking about singing in the local church or with a congregation. We’re just talking about the role music can play, as you encourage your family in the gospel, and yourself. [laughter]
Emily: Thinking about the gospel and music, and just the way it shows up in scripture, it’s cool to see there is a solid legacy of singing in the Old Testament. In Exodus—I loved as we studied Exodus last fall as a church—when Moses and all of the people cross through the Red Sea. They’re standing on the other side having just escaped Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and Moses, and Miriam and all the people break out into song when they see what God has done. It’s just so deep and emotional, and it expresses this powerful response as they’re seeing the waves crash in that probably couldn’t have been communicated by silence. And just saying, “Wow, what God did was really cool. We couldn’t communicate it.” It had to be a beautiful song. I just love that picture.
Laura: Yes, that’s a great picture. Then we also see, in the Old Testament, music as a way for God’s people to remember his promises, both for today and forever. We see another one of Moses’ songs in Deuteronomy 32: “He is the rock. His works are perfect. All his ways are just.” It’s just speaking about truth and about who God is. We also see them talking about God’s commands, reminding themselves of God’s commands through song. Also in Deuteronomy, Moses was told by God to write down songs and to teach it to the people.
Emily: They’re just a vital part of God’s design. There are so many great verses in Psalms; like Psalm 5:11: “Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. Let them ever sing for joy and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exalt in you.” Also Psalm 51:14: “My tongue will sing out loud of your righteousness.” This is obviously a big part of our expression of worship to God. It’s just one way.
Laura: Another way that we see songs used in the Old Testament is that they were used as a witness to other nations and to other people groups. So many of the Psalms written would be sang aloud by the entire Israelite communities. It was probably so loud that other nations and other people groups around them could hear these truths that were sang about God.
Emily: We also see singing in the New Testament. Mark 14:26 says, “And when they had sang a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” This was right before Jesus goes to pray, and he’s arrested. He’s singing with his disciples.
Laura: Yes, we even see it as very explicit command in the Epistles. Probably the most well known passage charging us to sing is from Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” There are a lot of other examples in the New Testament, as well.
Emily: The other exciting thing is this is in our future too, and we see singing in Revelation. Revelation 7:9-12 talks about there being a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, every tribe, all different peoples and languages standing before the throne of the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches.
They’re falling on their faces before the throne and worshipping God. There is so much song in Revelation—we even see the Song of Moses again—the same picture of them on the other side of the Red Sea. We see the people in Revelation 15:3, singing the Song of Moses, the servant of God, the song of the Lamb. Saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty.” So song is definitely in our future. [Laughs]
Laura: So you best get used to it. [Laughter]
Emily: It’s just cool that the gospel is implanted in song. I feel that’s kind of very cool.
Laura: It’s pretty exciting; it’s like, what a gift from God to have something so enjoyable and to be able to worship him through it.
We want to put in a quick gospel caveat here. We see that from scripture, as we’ve just discussed, singing is a command from God. But because of Christ, we do not have to view music and singing as something that we really have to do. It’s something that we get to do as a response. It’s a response of worship for the sacrifice that Christ has done. He redeemed us from the law, and we want to remember that. That is why we sing; it’s not because we have to, but because we get to, because of Christ’s sacrifice.
Emily: What’s interesting is that even worldview research shows how important singing is, and what an amazing role it plays in brain development and learning with children, and even adults, and with different types of therapies. It is a critical part of even the world’s understanding of what a healthy brain and heart is like.
Laura: It’s really cool to look at how a child may not be responsive to you saying, “Clean up.” But if you sing, “Clean up, clean up. Everybody do your share.” There’s your little taste of my singing. [Laughter]
Emily: What’s the Daniel tiger one? “Clean up, pick up, put away.” [Laughter]
Laura: That’s the one. Or how about, “If you have to go potty, stop and go right away!” My kids sing it all day long. [Laughs]
Emily: I bet you’re just so happy you got to hear Laura and I sing. [Laughter]
Laura: Never again. But it’s kind of amazing the way we are built. Even worldly science would say, “That helps with your memory and helps children transition or understand instructions.” It’s just really cool; it’s so apparent to everyone.
Emily: That just affirms the good gift that God gave us. We wanted to run through a list of ways we’ve seen this in our own family—ways that you can incorporate music, and the gospel within music more intentionally in your own everyday life.
Laura: That’s right. Maybe you’re feeling like, “I love music, but I don’t know how to play it.” Or, “I don’t know how to get it into my home or into our regular routines.” Just like with anything else, hopefully there are very natural moments in your day that you can incorporate music in. We want to talk through a list of what you can use music for, and what it can teach. Then we’ll give some examples about how we do it in our own homes, I guess? This is just kind of a more practical show now that I think about it, Em.
Emily: First of all, music is just teaching biblical truth. You can find a lot of the things we’re getting ready to mention on our resources page, on our website @risenmotherhood.com/resources—there’s a whole section of children and music there. If we’re going too fast, just go there to find out what we’re talking about.
Laura: Or the show notes.
Emily: Yes. In our home, we will listen to songs that either have catechisms or that have biblical wisdom in them. It is amazing; I will hear our kids later singing the words, “God’s Word, God’s nuggets of gold.” They’re just singing it while they’re playing, and it’s like, “Ha, ha, you learned something really true there.” I hope that just sticks in their mind, whether it’s a little line, or it’s a deep, dark turn of truth.
Laura: Think about just the simplicity of, “Jesus loves me.” I mean, every kid knows it. Even a lot of non-believing kids know that song and just think about the truth that is being put in their heart. At least at that young age, that hopefully evolves into a true belief of the words of that song.
Emily: I had a friend who told me when she was really young, she used to go to this Bible study that would sing, “Good morning God, this is your day. I am your child, show me your way.”
Laura: I like that song.
Emily: When she got to be an adult, she went through a harder season, and she’s like, “But that song would come back to me every morning. This song that I learned when I was four or five years old.”
Laura: That just gives me goose pimples I love that stuff. [Laughter] The second one which is very much along that line is hiding God’s word in our hearts. Now there are so many musicians that are creating beautiful music, that are straight up scripture, which is so awesome. We love Seeds Family Worship and Honey for the Heart. Again, as Emily said, these are mentioned on the resources page. These are great things because we already should be memorizing scripture and hiding God’s word in our hearts. As we said, music is a really great way to remember things. I know that we’ve had CDs playing in the background of our car. Like Emily said, my kids will just whip out singing and I am like, “That’s straight scripture.” I’ll remember those things, and those useful reminders that are just sort of by listening to them, it’s almost like osmosis. You know, I am starting to understand and hide scripture in my heart.
Emily: Another thing that music and singing can do within our families is really remind us of our relationship to God. It can help us preach the gospel to ourselves, and help us remember our station. We sing things like, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” We sing songs that communicate these really deep truths. I know we’ve started trying to sing some hymns with our kids, so we really can sing the gospel in these really rich theological ways. There are definitely a ton of old, beautiful hymns, but one that I like that’s a little bit more recent is “Speak, O Lord” by the Gettys. We’ve memorized the whole second verse of that, and we have little hand motions that go along with it. And even though they don’t understand it, it’s still really great. I hope that later in life when they sing like, “Teach us Lord full obedience, holy reverence, true humility,” that that will come back to mind, and help instruct them in the gospel.
Laura: That’s right. Many of the best songs walk us through the gospel stories. We sing and we can proclaim truth, and in many of them, walk us through confession. They end in the promises of our savior, which is truly preaching the gospel to yourself. I am thinking of “Blessed Assurance” of Franny Crosby, and which is one of my favorites. I know at 5pm I am at a loss. We had a show a few weeks ago or maybe months ago about preaching the gospel to yourself and what it really means. In that, I know that at 5 o’clock at night, I sometimes cannot give the brainpower to really be able to work through that. But I can remember the lyrics of a beloved hymn. And Franny Crosby says, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his spirit, washed in his blood.” That is just truth washing over you to remember your identity in Christ.
Emily: Going along with that is singing about our mission and reminding us of our witness. Of course the classic, little child song is, “This little light of mine, I am gonna let it shine.” Sometimes that’s abstract, but there are songs like, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” It just goes on and on, but to look at songs that really help our children catch a vision for the fact that we’re all swept up into this bigger story, and we have a job to do here on earth for God. It’s just a good reminder.
Laura: It reminds our kids that God’s story isn’t supposed to be kept to ourselves. They should move us to share our faith with others. M kids are obsessed with “Nothing but the Blood…” That’s like their favorite song, and my son was singing it at the grocery store as loudly as he could. Mostly it’s just singing “Nothing but the blood...” [Laughter] That’s it. I wanted to hush him up, but I just kept remembering like, “No, I want to let my son sing.” He may not understand the full reverence or worship of what this is but allowing that song and those words to be proclaimed in a public grocery store, I was like, “You know what, all praise be to Jesus.”
Emily: And a quick note about implanting truths, this is one beautiful way we can communicate gospel truths to our very young children—our infants. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old who has some significant developmental delays. One of the main ways, right now, I am trying to instruct him in the gospel is singing to him when I rock him every night. I have about six or seven hymns that we go through, and I’ll insert his name into them. I don’t know exactly what he’s retaining, but I have faith that that is one of the ways that God is going to implant truth into his heart. And that’s true for very young children. Therefore don’t discount it if your kids can’t talk yet. You can still sing with them, and have faith that God is using that.
Laura: One of the other ways that worship and singing functions so beautifully is that it unites us together. I know it’s just really fun when we get together with friends or families. Or maybe like mine and Emily’s kids will get together, and they all know the same songs. There’s just something special. Think about when you share an experience like going to a concert with other people. There’s just something that bonds you when you share those things and you share those words. When you know some of the same music as a family. I know our family sings the doxology before bed. Seasonally, I would say, “We sing it every night right now.” We’re kind of doing it, and then we’ll get out of it and do something different.
I don’t want to say every night, but we try to sing that together because that’s just such truth, and it’s easy for my kids to remember. It’s nice and short, so we don’t feel like it’s going on for four different verses. That’s a really simple way that we can get together with extended family and they all know the doxology too. And the kids will go, “Ooh cool, you know.” [Laughter]
Emily: Hearing others singing is even an encouraging thing that can draw your heart back to what is true and good in scripture. There are so many wonderful things about song. Hopefully in our kind of jumbled back and forth conversation here, you got some really great ideas of new ways to use music. Maybe you feel more motivated to turn on a song today for your children. Or to teach your children some new songs that have great truth in them.
Laura: Something that’s kind of invaluable is a hymnbook.
Laura: I was just thinking we should link one of those on our resources page. I am not sure we have one up there, but it’s just really nice to have one on the bedside table because sometimes you can’t think of them, so you can look them up. Or maybe you weren’t raised with hymns and you’re not familiar with them. A hymnbook is, therefore, really handy to have. We’ll have some other music. We’ll try to put together some resources for our show notes page that are encouraging. Oh, and we have stuff on our newsletter. We send out a song in our newsletter every month that our RM team has been loving lately and has been on repeat. So that’s another place to find. It’s just a single song, but it’s probably a good place to hopefully find an encouraging song that you might not have heard before.
Emily: Yes. Hopefully you guys got some ideas today. If you want to find any more of these resources, again, they’re all @risenmotherhood.com. You can find our show notes and our resources page there, and also follow us @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more discussion about this this week.
Laura: Thanks, guys.