A Season of Songs

By Jenna Coates

Hands on a piano

What season of songs are you in?

If you were to search for famous quotations about music (and trust me I have) you would be able to tell pretty quickly that music is powerful. It seems to be able to express feelings and emotions we have few words for, it can bring refuge and comfort, joy and refreshing. People from generation to generation, from one end of the globe to the other end, have recognised the significance of music. From my own experience, music acts as my heart-cry. There is nothing like belting out a ballad in the car or in my bedroom. It is such a joy to dance and sing around in celebration. And there is something about finding a song, or a line, or a melody that sends shivers down your spine as it resonates with your heart.

My devotional life as a worship leader often includes taking note of the season of songs I am in. This is by no means a practice just for worship leaders, because it can be revelatory and powerful for anyone.

Firstly, what do I mean by a 'season of songs'? (This does just sound like more Christian jargon, but it is a helpful label to give to what I do.) 'Seasons' is one of my Dad's favourite words, but it is in reference to Ecclesiastes 3:1, 'There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens' (NIV). Everyone in life faces and experiences change, and one of the best ways to describe it is by using the metaphor of seasons. The music I listen to, the songs I am playing and singing over and over again act as one of the best significations for me of what season I am in and where my heart is at. I make sure to take note or journal these songs, so I can look back and recognise the different season of songs I've been through, because knowing what songs are 'on repeat' helps me to understand my heart so much better. I can identify what my heart is crying out for, what my heart is rejoicing over, what my heart is broken for. I can identify what I am struggling with or what I am grasping, I can hear God speak to me through them and so often also hear the songs he is singing over me. And this does not have to be whole songs or loads of songs, sometimes it is just a line or two, a verse or chorus, but when I find something that resonates I take note and when it keeps creeping back I take note even more.

I'll end with an example.

My Nan passed away unexpectedly last Summer and we were all very close to her. In many ways she was a mum to me. After she died, I was asked to play 10,000 reasons by Matt Redman at her funeral. 10,000 reasons was a worship song that had already been on repeat for me during my finals at uni. Every time I felt myself getting overwhelmed with revision or drawing closer to stress about exams, I would put this song on and soak it in. I'd be praying and reminding myself that 'whatever may pass and whatever lies before me' I could still be singing and praising my Father in heaven, because my grades didn't and wouldn't define me. The song reminded me of God's love and kind heart. The song placed the final term of my final year into the perspective of a life worshipping God, no matter what. I was apprehensive about leading it at the funeral, I knew of the emotional impact it could have on such a song. But it was right and I stood up on that day in front of family and friends and worshipped. I sang those words after my world had been well and truly shaken, when I couldn't yet fully conceive of the grief I would go through and the loss I would feel. For a few months after the funeral, I couldn't listen to that song without crying. Yet God has guided me back to it softly, because my heart is still crying out 'whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes'.

Jenna Coates