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What kind of music impacts you emotionally?  I’ve often said that while teaching touches my mind, music touches my soul.

Not all music speaks hope. When a car pulls up next to mine, boom box glaring with a heavy drum beat that I feel in my chest, my blood pressure rises, and my heart rate and anxiety increase.

But during this wonderful Christmas season we’ve heard some glorious music – the old Carols sung by renowned artists like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. We’ve put on playlists of Christmas music as we decorated the tree and moved through the season.


And as we watched The Chosen Christmas Special,my favorite part was at the very end. Enveloped between slabs of a marble quarry, Andrea Boccelli and his son Matteo sang that beautiful Christmas standard, “O Holy Night.” A grand piano stood on the heavy marble ledge with stark stone walls rising on either side. Father and son sound much alike, so their blend was marvelous to hear. With rich vocals and tight harmonies, the strains and words of “O Holy Night” were flung into the air with clarity and meaning.

Insert: Andrea and son

“Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.” English novelist and poet George Elliot


Intuitively, we know good music makes life better (see Pfizer article at,that%20generate%20and%20control%20emotions.&text=The%20limbic%20system%2C%20which%20is,when%20our%20ears%20perceive%20music).

The author says “Listening to (or making) music increases blood flow to brain regions that generate and control emotions.”

Another article states, “Active music-making positively affects neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, that influence mood. Dopamine influences focus, concentration, memory, sleep, mood and motivation. Likewise, serotonin impacts mood, sleep patterns, anxiety and pain.”

Analysts have studied the types of music that bring about various responses. For example, younger shoppers shop longer when instrumental music is playing, while older folks shop longer with music with lyrics. And classical music may help us feel more comfortable spending more money than popular music will. I want to pay attention to the songs drifting through the mall the next time I shop, and see if I can identify how it impacts my spending.


However, certain kinds of music can exacerbate a person’s sadness, lack of self-esteem, and ability to interact socially. An article at,anxiety%20or%20worsen%20existing%20conditions. says “…some genres of music are associated with substance and alcohol abuse, opposing authority and rebelliousness along with violent behavior, delinquency, and impulsive and violent traits.” This is key for parents as they guide their children with wisdom and grace. Listen to what they hear and, if necessary, make adjustments—even if it means taking a phone away for their emotional well-being.

Like so many things, music can be used for good or evil. Think of the marches played under Hitler, which stirred national fervor and agreement with his demonic “master plan” for Aryan greatness.


However, music’s powers for good are great. The power of a song like “O Holy Night;” the beauty of “Fur Elise,” or the words and tune of an old familiar hymn like “How Great Thou Art,” lift our hearts and spirits to praise and gratitude to the God from whom all good comes.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

A few years ago, Don and I were in the former Soviet country of Estonia. Shortly before our trip we had watched a powerful movie, The Singing Revolution. Estonia hosted a large music competition every five years in their immense, 300,000-seat amphitheater. After 50 years of Soviet occupation during which it was illegal to sing the Estonian National Anthem, Soviet Union President Gorbachev came to one of the competitions.  During a lull in the performances, one brave man in the audience of began singing the Estonian National Anthem. Slowly, other voices joined his until the entire, 300,000-strong audience raised their voices with his. There was nothing Gorbachev could do. Soon after, Estonia regained their freedom.

We told our guide how the movie had touched our hearts. She looked at us and said, “I was one of those 300,000!” Just remembering that moment brings tears to my eyes.


Read my earlier post about how music–and the Gospel–set George Friedrich Handel free to write THE MESSIAH.

We are on the cusp of a new year with great possibilities for dissension, discord, disagreement; and also for possibilities of great hope because of the God who is sovereign over all. Let’s enjoy music that uplifts our souls and renews our spirits.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7





  1. Joan Young says:

    Carol your heart and your writing warms my heart and brings me joy. You have been given such a gift and I for one will always be grateful for you!

    Love and prayers from

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Joan, you are such a gift in my life. Thank you for your sweet comment. It means a lot to me. And I am praying for you as you undergo more surgery tomorrow. God be with you and give you a good result! I’ll send an email too. Prayers, hugs!

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