I was trying my best to carry the life-giving message of Jesus and his love and promise of abundant and everlasting life to these dear Elder Saints who may be near eternity. It seemed futile.
Their heads had almost fallen to their knees, some staring blankly out the window. Others mumbled unintelligibly about nothing to whoever wanted to hear it … or to anyone … until we started singing.
Music therapy is an established health profession in which music is used as part of a therapeutic relationship to meet the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals.
After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the trained music therapist provides the indicated treatment, including creating, singing, moving and / or listening to music.
Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients’ capacities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives.
Music therapy also offers communication channels that can be helpful for those who have difficulty expressing themselves in words. Music therapy research supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitation of movement, increasing the motivation of people to engage in their treatment, emotional support of clients and their families and an outlet for the expression of feelings.
Long ago, Jewish King Saul had bouts with some form of mental illness and / or demonic attack. But his soul was soothed by the music of the young shepherd David as he strummed his harp and probably sang the Psalms (songs) that we can still read (or sing, I Samuel 16: 16-23).
Elisha the prophet, like Jesus, needed music to inspire his preaching and his prophecies (II Kings 3: 15-17).
When I stopped preaching in the Elderly Care Center and our group started singing the hymns these dear people had known from their childhood, the play came alive. Suddenly all eyes were raised and most mouths began to move with the words remembered long ago that had been buried deep in the mysterious recesses of the mind. The medicinal music had touched a part of their being that mere words could not.
Listen to music!
Rick Sams is Pastor Emeritus of Alliance Friends Church.