Why is that in so many faiths, music plays an important role?
Answer: Divine revelation has
been heard since antiquity primarily in two modes. The first is speech,
as the spoken word of God; the second is music, which is often conveyed
as an accompaniment to the prophetic voice.
Like divine revelation itself, music is a vital form of inspiration;
scripture, music and worship lend themselves naturally to one another.
Although in the West, scripture and prayers are usually read, Orthodox
and Roman Catholic churches perform the Byzantine and Gregorian chants
respectively. Hymn-singing is found in most Protestant denominations,
except the most fundamental. In the Middle East and South Asia, prayers
and religious texts are usually chanted.
Religious practitioners are usually selective in their preferred
musical expression. The music must suit the dignity, reverence and
spirituality of the sacred. Fundamentalists and discriminating
listeners of all religious stripes are usually antithetical to certain
types of western popular music as having a legitimate place in the
worship service. This statement applies particularly to the “heavy
metal,” “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” musical brand, not
indiscriminately to all forms of western music.
In the Baha’i faith, no prohibition exists on either listening to or
performing music, be it of instrumental or voice expression. On the
contrary, music is highly praised in our sacred writings. It is
permitted during any part of feast days or holy days. In Baha’i
temples, however, only a cappella music is permitted.
The Baha’i sacred writings recommend that musical instruction be an
integral part of the elementary school curriculum. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
(1844-1921) (“Servant of Glory”), the son of the Prophet-Founder
Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), suggests that music helps to develop the
latent talents in children.
He said further: “Music is one of the important arts. It has great
effect upon human spirit ... Musical melodies are, therefore, those
peculiar effects produced by, or from, vibration. However, they have
the keenest effect upon the spirit. In sooth, although music is a
material affair, yet its tremendous effect is spiritual, and its
greatest attachment is to the realm of the spirit.” -