Gospel lyrics + music that fits the words = tears…

That has always been the formula that works for me. Old standards such as “And Can it Be” and “Man of Sorrows.” A choir on full tilt singing “Ode to Joy.” Contemporary worship songs such as “Be Ye Glad.” Most anything by the Soweto Gospel choir. And most anything sung at my local church. I hear these songs and I am pointed to Christ. I get glimpses of joy, even when life is hard.

Some of these songs I am sure will be sung in heaven.

Given how worship music can be so edifying, I am surprised by how infrequently I suggest it to people who are up to their neck in sin, suffering, or both. Maybe it’s because music is not filed very systematically in my own mind, so I wouldn’t have immediate suggestions for the drug addicted, depressed or the anxious. And if I had suggestions, I wouldn’t know where someone could get the music, though I suspect that anyone younger than me could find it in a heartbeat. On the other hand, maybe a catalog isn’t all that necessary because any gospel-driven, Christ-centered, atonement-focused song will speak deeply to any problem. Whatever the case, I don’t often think to suggest it.

But here is something that I do think about . . . a lot. Almost every week I tell my wife, “If I ever have to spend time in the hospital, please get one of the kids to download some great worship songs on an iPod for me. Maybe you could even figure out a way to read Scripture and download that too.” (Please don’t tell me that an iPod would interfere with the hospital monitoring devices.) This desire was reinforced in the last few days when a good friend was in the hospital and mentioned how the nights could be so long and, at times, haunting. Imagine what it would be like for churches to have a loaded mp3 player available for any member that goes into the hospital! It doesn’t replace a pastoral visit but it would certainly help keep pain and fears at bay, and it would keep us attentive to the thing of first importance.