sacred songs, radio prophecy

New Sound of Silence

(Disturbed, The Sound of Silence,  Immortalized, 2015)

The metal band Disturbed recently released their version of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. Instead of quiet despair it’s an agonizing scream raging against the many surface distractions that keep all of us from true conversation and connection. To rephrase the lyrics, only fools miss the glaring truth that withdrawal from the voices of others is a cancer that threatens communal life – individuals and groups. It’s one of the most sincere prayers I’ve heard lately.
What we say matters, how we say it matters even more. What we listen to and for matters; how we respond matters just as much. Do I look for the words of the prophets on subway walls and tenement halls, or do I notice only the glowing neon advertisements asking nothing of me but my money and passivity? With shots taking lives in nightclubs and on sidewalks, I can’t afford to turn a deaf ear.
Still, small voices guide us to truth. Prophetic warnings writ large remind us to love God and neighbor. Silence can be holy or smothering, depending on why we hold it. Silence can hold our restless, distracted souls still long enough to feel the love of God surrounding us. Silencing the cries of others through apathy is a sure road to a hell of our own making.
Music can help us hear the cries of others and the longing for true communion that lives in our very souls. Here are a few lines that move me:

Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. (Bob Marley, Redemption Song)

One love, ya’ll.
My wandering got my ass wondering where Christ is in all this crisis.
It might feel good, it might sound a little something, but f*** the game if it don’t mean nothing.
God takes care of old folks and fools. (Public Enemy, He Got Game)

Is there anybody’s children can tell me, what is the soul of a man?
Was teaching the lawyers and the doctor that a man ain’t nothing but his mind.
I read the Bible often, I try to read it right. As far as I can understand, is nothing but a burnin’ light.
When Christ taught in the temple, the people all stood amazed, was teaching the lawyers and the doctors how to raise a man from the grave. (Bruce Cockburn, Soul of a Man)

Make your own list of songs with lines that break the sound of silence for you. I’d love to hear them…

(Simon and Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence, Best of Simon and Garfunkel)

Sing to the Lord a new song, all the earth. Psalm 96

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

5 thoughts on “sacred songs, radio prophecy”

  1. This is such a beautiful song, my heart echos the silence of those people shot, silent I touch with my soul, how do I touch the soul of one I know who murdered three, now silent one five years.old.. I need to think of them all in heaven singing their hearts out for those who live.

  2. Thank you, Brigid. Those who take lives, those whose lives are taken – part of the silence we make holy by our own compassionate tears. Peace, Johnna

  3. I did my best, it wasn’t much
    I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
    I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
    And even though it all went wrong
    I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
    With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

  4. Also I think of Arcade Fire’s “City With No Children”:
    You never trust a millionaire
    Quoting the Sermon on the Mount
    I used to think I was not like them
    But I’m beginning to have my doubts
    My doubts about it

    When you’re hiding underground
    The rain can’t get you wet
    But do you think your righteousness
    Can pay the interest on your debt?
    I have my doubts about it

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