Earth Harp or Heaven Harp?
Sound Medicine, a public radio program produced by Indiana School of Medicine, recently featured a short piece on the Earth Harp, the world’s largest stringed instrument. This musical instrument is used in yoga classes, and it sends sound vibrations through the room and the bodies of those performing their yoga routines. Proponents believe that the sonic vibrations have a healing quality. In the five-minute audio clip heard here, the reporter, Sandy Roob, describes how advocates believe that the sounds affect the “energy centers” of the body and that the sounds thus enliven the soul. They believe that it is “a perfect instrument for sound healing purposes.” The theory says that the waves move through the air, into the ear, and then all the way down to the cellular level, affecting our ability to fight disease.
Fascinatingly, one woman interviewed noted that our ability to sing in the west has been lost in large measure though in developing countries it is much more alive. This inability to sing affects not only our health but also our sense of community because singing binds us together so closely. At the end of the report, those in the yoga class sang together.
Why post it here? I am not espousing eastern mysticism. I don’t know about the science of the matter. But whatever is true in the report is simply borrowed from what God has already prescribed. Proverbs 17:22 says: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” God knows best how to stir our hearts to joy – even out of sadness. He’s given us the songs to do it. And he’s given just the harp to do it! It is not the earth harp; it is the heaven-made harp. We are to be “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). The term “making melody” in the original Greek language means to pluck the strings of the heart. The perfect harp for healing is the Spirit-filled human heart expressing itself through the vocal chords.
Sadly, western culture has lost its ability to sing, and to sing together, because the church has lost its ability to sing. It has introduced performers and all manner of musical instruments that have silenced or drowned out the heaven-made harp. But when we sing full-throated praise to God, our bodies vibrate, from the inside out, and you can’t help but feel it. You’ll feel it best in a congregation singing a capella. There is little more thrilling for me as a pastor than to stand in front of a congregation singing praise and to literally feel the sonic vibration of voices pouring forth praise to God’s glory.
So, what’s the solution? Let’s sing. Everybody! Sing the Psalms in your car, in the home, and by all means, for the sake of your health and the glory of God, get to public worship where you can lift your voice with God’s people! For practical instruction on how, read Barry York’s recent article here.
Thanks to Jim Long for the tip. All Scripture quotations New American Standard Bible.