As the line goes, “Music is the universal language.” Nothing reinforces this notion more than being in another country or culture and hearing folks belting out a song in their non-indigenous tongue. One of my favorite situations was sitting on a park bench in Cuba near a young woman with headphones loudly singing “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles. Shortly after, someone asked her for directions in English. She responded that she did not speak English.
Music also knows no generational boundaries. Sure, on occasion you hear someone say, “I don’t understand the music these young people listen to.” But in my experience, I run into a number of individuals from an older generation who know popular music and young people who enjoy “the classics”. In fact, this summer at the the Episcopal Youth Event the DJ played a song from the 80’s (well before the vast majority were even born) and the volume of the singing suggested that all knew and loved the song.
At its core what I really think music does is connect people. Play a certain song and mentally people are immediately connected to the time, place and people from when the song was a part of their lives. Go to a sporting event and just watch as they play a “pump up” song – the crowd starts moving in rhythm together. Play a spiritual song or hymn and the Holy becomes palpable in the room. And, when you play something like Silent Night or Ode to Joy, people obviously are connected – mind, body and soul.
Music is the universal language. A language that we all speak even if we do not understand or know the words, melody or origins. A language that often goes beyond to the core of our soul and takes us to a holy place beyond time and space.