The Psalms: A Soundtrack for Life {The Grove: Music}

The opening bars of Paul Simon’s Graceland album might be perfection.

U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” is the song I am convinced will be playing when I wake up in glory at the end of my days.

Music. It has been a part of my life since my earliest memories. I know some people might not think of themselves as “music people” and thus quick to tune out this post. Hang with me.

This year I have been making my way through the Psalms and seeing them through the eyes of Jesus. I think it’s amazing the longest book of Scripture is a book of songs. These songs have made their way through the ages. They were sung by Jesus and every saint since.

Of all the ways God would choose to communicate some of the deepest hallmarks of the human experience and the saving Gospel He chose music. From the depths of despair and fear David writes songs. From the heights of praise his lyrics soar proclaiming a God of Sovereignty and great mercy.

It’s no wonder that our modern hearts utilize music to narrate our lives.

Music is usually an integral part of the life of a church- whether elaborate or simple in form. When we moved a year ago, though a short distance from where we previously lived, we realized we needed to find a church in our new community. The church God has placed us in uses a Psalter. This was a first for me. If you’re not familiar it is simply the Psalms set to suggested common tunes, usually older hymns, which we then sing. It’s a way to sing the Psalms word for word.

Jesus sang these same songs.

There is a weight and history we experience when we sing the Psalms. The Psalms are timeless truths teaching us the whole of our Gospel need for God’s grace through Jesus. They are not to be brushed aside as ancient poetry suited only for the side of an inspirational coffee mug.

I dare say there is no other portion of Scripture which so clearly speaks to every aspect of what it is to be human and struggle with all the elements of being dust and flesh than the Psalms. For me music has always helped me do the struggling. A soundtrack can rise and fall with my emotions in such a way I gain perspective about what I am thinking or feeling.

What I’m stumbling to say is music must matter to God seeing as He made it and included it as an integral portion of His Word. Whether listening to the Psalms or a song written by someone completely outside of the faith I believe we can hear the longings of the human heart. I believe grace has a melody we can all sing. I believe often it is an expression of God’s image imprinted on our very souls.

I’ll let the music do the rest of the talking … or singing … Here are a few albums that are go-tos for me- many of which are taken directly from the Psalms. I’m sure most of them are available on iTunes if you can access it.

Albums I adore:

Indelible Grace I

Rich Mullins, The Jesus Record

Enter the Worship Circle: Vol. 1

Indelible Grace: Pilgrim Days

Chair & Microphone: Vol. 1

Sandra McCracken: Psalms

All Sons & Daughters: Season One

Laura Story: Great God Who Saves

If you want to dive deeper into the Psalms the book The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Timothy Keller is wonderful.

What’s your go-to music these days?


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  1. Michele Womble June 23, 2016

    Thank you for your thoughts on music, Jessica!  I’ve got to run now but I’ll be back in a bit….

  2. H June 23, 2016

    I have enjoyed this topic, particularly these 2 quotes from today:

    “From the depths of despair and fear David writes songs. From the heights of praise his lyrics soar proclaiming a God of Sovereignty and great mercy.” Whenever I don’t know where to go, I usually end up in the Psalms.

     “For me music has always helped me do the struggling. A soundtrack can rise and fall with my emotions in such a way I gain perspective about what I am thinking or feeling.” My computer journal will frequently have whole songs copied and pasted into it during times when I was processing a lot.

    While I never considered myself musical, looking back I realize how important music has been to me.  There are some songs, that when I hear them take me back to specific times of life, sometimes quite specific times and places.  And I am reminded of what I was going through then, or what God taught me then.  I have heard some songs, or types of songs, be mocked occasionally because of how much they repeat a couple lines, but I remember God using them to just hammer me with the lines. The first few times I would just sing it, but as we kept singing, I would start to ask myself if I was truly living it.  Once of those times I was so convicted that I had to start the process of reconciling with someone that I had assumed would never happened.

    More recently, I was going through a time of learning to share emotions and open my life up to others, and it was a uphill battle.  But I learned a way to start with one friend was to honestly answer what song was currently resonating with me.  And somehow those lyrics had a way of sneaking in and saying what I didn’t know how to say myself, and to open the door so that I could learn how to.


    1. Michele Womble June 23, 2016

      I know what you mean about songs that take you back to a certain specific place and time and what God is doing with you – I’m the same way.

      Love the idea of sharing what song is resonating with you at the moment and why as a way to begin sharing life with others.

    2. Jessica Hoover June 24, 2016

      Oh wow! I adore the idea of answering with a song that is resonating. That is something I really could do as a lover of music. It does give a glimpse into your heart. Thanks for sharing that!

      1. H June 24, 2016

        Or I even just use it to monitor myself and see what the state of my heart is and what is resonating

        1. Michele Womble June 25, 2016

          oh, yeah…totally.  I do that, too, but I hadn’t actually named it that way.

  3. Michele Womble June 24, 2016

    Jessica – I totally agree that music must matter to God – and He created us to respond to it, as well – I know how much music matters to different individuals varies, because we are different (it matters a lot to me!) but it’s one of the things that He uses to speak to us and to touch us.

    Thanks for the list of albums/songs!

    Rich Mullins  – yeah, pretty much anything of his – each of his albums/songs throw me to a specific time and place and something that God was doing in my heart, as H was saying above…

    1. Jessica Hoover June 24, 2016

      Rich, is such a go-to for me and has been since I was a teen. Seems like I circle back around to him again and again. Something about the fragrance of Jesus in his music. Hits all the senses I think.

      1. Michele Womble June 25, 2016

        I come back around to him over and over again, too.  I like the way you put that, “something about the fragrance of Jesus in his music”….yes, it DOES hit all the senses!  To me it is real poetry ….

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