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Art and Music on the Chain of Christianity

By Lori Harris
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #20, 1997.

Gaining a love of God through art.
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Lori Harris

Nat King Cole, the Dorseys, and the Andrew Sisters certainly draw your mind and thoughts to a different way of life, don't they? What if I asked you to think about the Beatles, CCR, The Doors, or Andy Warhol? Do you see a trend? The culture is truly reflected in the art and music of the people. It is also capable of being more than a mere reflection. It is capable of showing the true heart of a nation. Does our home and school reflect the "something different" that will train the hearts and minds of those who dwell within its four walls?

Musical Foundations

In our school, we add music and art to every time period of "His-story" that we are studying. Yearly the rudiments of the subject are established. In music for example, we would define the key words of the subject of music as follows (Webster's 1828 definitions):

  • Music - "melody or harmony; any succession of sounds so modulated as to please the ear, or any combination of simultaneous sounds in accordance or harmony. Music is vocal or instrumental." Webster notes that the root of the word music is muse.

  • Muse - "to ponder; to think closely; to study in silence... to be absent in mind; to be so occupied in study or contemplation, as not to observe passing scenes or things present."

  • Melody - "an agreeable succession of sounds; a succession of sounds so regulated and modulated as to please the ear. To constitute melody, the sounds must be arranged according to the laws of rhythms, measure, or the due proportion of the movements to each other."

  • Lyrics - "a short poem or song; a poetical composition proper to be set to music or sung; a lyric poem."

  • Harmony - "a setting together, a closure or seam, agreement, concert... just proportion of sound; consonance; musical concord; the accordance of two or more intervals of sounds, or that union of different sounds which pleases the ear; or a succession of such sounds, called chords."

  • Rhythm - "variety in the movement as to quickness or slowness or length and shortness of notes; or rather the proportion which the parts of the motion have to each other."

A Covenant of Sound

All of these components set the criteria for what we consider to be music that would bring glory to God. Music is an easy area in which to identify the principle of covenant, for all of the rudimentary elements of music must agree with the standard of the Word. If we consider this to be our criteria, there should be no problem in establishing a broad enough representation of musical styles so that everyone's taste is represented and no one is offended. When all aspects of the rudimentary principles are considered, we should be pondering upon God.

Begin to research and record scriptures that are relevant to music and God's plan for it. Make a vocabulary list of words that define what music does for you internally and externally. If this is not happening, we should check to see that we are not worshipping the music itself instead of the Creator. That doesn't mean that every set of lyrics or music should center on God, but it should reflect Biblical principles.

In his book, Renewing the Mind, Paul Jehle points out that we should ponder the effect that music has upon us. When we cultivate the kind of music that will edify us and bring us into greater harmony with God, we are illustrating and demonstrating an application of the principle of covenant. When pressed out of balance, we are driven away from God into our emotions, or end up addicted to forms of music rather than being free to worship God with greater sincerity. In the home, music can serve to set the mood for the entire house. In academics, the music of the time period can be studied along with the discipline of history in order to point out the standard that ruled the day. Timetables of History is a great general reference book to help guide you in your selections. Many times, the public library has just about any type and style of music for your perusal as well.

Artistic Foundations

We incorporate art the same way. We identify and define the subject first. Key words would include: drawing, painting, line, color, shade, engraving, printing, appearance, representation, form, shape, and texture.

Discover different mediums. We train our children to see the beauty of God through the things He has created for our pleasure. Man has the desire to make beautiful creations. And through developing a love of beauty, the individual comes to a fuller appreciation of the glory of God. As we define these key words, begin to look up scripture to enlighten the mind and continue to sharpen your children's sense of God's goodness and faithfulness to them.

We set God's creation as the artistic standard. Without this, there is no standard for "right" or "wrong." Our children can begin to understand principles of labor as they labor to create objects of beauty themselves. Whether it be choosing material and a pattern to make a dress, picking out a type of wood, cutting, sanding, gluing and sealing that piece to perfection, or just creating a line drawing of a building, the child should begin to see the hand of God laboring to shape their own heart and character both now and for the future.

The library is a good place to look at art history books and research famous painters. Don't be afraid to research a painter because your knowledge is limited. Use the Timetables book and identify who God's person was in art during the time period you are studying. Chances are, someone was trying to set a standard of excellence for the glory of God.

Be creative! Try your hand at ceramics, sewing, woodworking, crafts, and just plain cut-and-paste. Have fun! Art does not have to be a major investment in order to create a lifetime of memories and appreciation for the greatness of God.

Surround Yourself With Beauty

Beautiful pictures and paintings, quotations, and scriptures should adorn your home. In our family kitchen hangs a picture that is a precious part of my childhood memories. I remember the day the young man came to our house and sold it to my parents. My parents weren't Christians at the time. They only bought the picture because the boy looked so hungry! Nevertheless, through the years, it hung over our kitchen table. When my parents came to the Lord, this picture of Jesus looking down on Jerusalem became a real treasure to them. To them it meant Jesus had been watching and waiting for them long before they knew He cared. As I sit and gaze on it, I sense the same assurance.

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