If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp. (Psalm 137:5)
The word ‘secular’ always makes something inside of me giggle. Although the concept is legitimate, the word itself pulls me back to the discman days of my youth when the edgiest CD I owned was DC Talk. Youth group trips always opened with a brief admonishment: NO secular music allowed. We used to think that the line between secular and sacred was pretty to easy to find. Christian music played on KLOVE and was produced in Nashville. Secular music was . . . well . . . anything else.
David, the worship leader, takes an interesting stance in Psalm 137. “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp.” Babylon captured Israel and then demanded, “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!” David couldn’t do it. He couldn’t bring himself to use music in this way. “May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you.”
Undoubtedly, there is a biblical precedence to use God-given talents in God-honoring ways. How we choose to live this out becomes an important conversation. My ‘secular’ projects include an acoustic album, a Broadway-style musical, and a small collection of symphonic writing. I’m so grateful for these experiences and would happily defend the God-given inspiration behind every note.
Here’s my prayer. Let my love for Christ bleed on the floor of every room I stand in. Let my sonic creations point to my creator. And, as David taught me, if I ever reach the day when my music holds no glory—when it contains nothing more than earthly tools and ambition, may I simply forget how to play.