Have you ever been going about your day either shopping at a store, eating at a restaurant, or maybe sitting in a waiting room when a particular song plays? For every person the song is different, but as soon as you hear it, very vivid memories from another time in your life come flooding back. Often these memories are not just a recollection of the events, but we also recall and relive the emotional experiences that accompanied those events. We likely have all had this sort of experience where music serves as a powerful catalyst for our memories.
Neurological studies have revealed there might be a reason for this. In a study on the effects of music, it was found that certain parts of the brain light up when hearing a familiar song compared to a new song. The part of the brain that was active when hearing a familiar song is the same part that is associated with creating autobiographical memories. Our brains are naturally wired to make music a foundational part of the memories that have the potential to be some of the most defining to us.
While it cannot be studied quite as cleanly as a neuroscience, I think a case could be made that our souls have also been created to respond to music in foundational ways. Music has been part of the Christian experience from the beginning. For instance, it is recorded on the night of the last supper before going to the garden Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn. Biblical scholars think that some of Paul’s writings contain samples of songs that were used by first century Christians, Philippians chapter 2 is one example of this. Just like certain songs are deeply connected to our memories, we also have songs that are deeply connected to our faith.
For some of us these songs might be rooted to memories. Perhaps it is an old hymn that you associated with the grandparents who were shining examples in faith, or perhaps it is the song that was playing when you first committed to follow Jesus. Other deep faith songs might be ones that spoke truth and reassurance into our lives when we needed it the most, or they are songs that put our most important beliefs to words in a way we cannot.
We all have songs that connect to our faith. These are songs that make God’s presence more detectable to us than normal, and songs that speak to our hearts and souls like nothing else. Over this summer, we are going to celebrate these songs. Starting in June, we will be asking you to list the three hymns that are the most meaningful to you personally. We are going to compile these responses and then use the most selected songs as part of our worship services throughout the rest of the summer. Perhaps the most meaningful songs to you will make the list, or maybe you will get the opportunity to learn some new favorite songs. Either way, may we all be able to worship in Spirit and truth over these next couple of months.
 Christopher Bergland. “Why Do the Songs from Your Past Evoke Such Vivid Memories?” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-do-the-songs-your-past-evoke-such-vivid-memories