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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)

TITLE: The Melody and the Message
By Charles Salmon


The Melody and the Message
Two Christian preachers sit in a damp and dark jail cell. Their feet are in stocks, their naked backs are bloody and bruised, their muscles are stiff and sore. For an act of kindness and for persistently proclaiming the unpopular message of Jesus, they have been abused, beaten, and incarcerated. They are neither the first nor the last to suffer such abuse for the sake of the message of Jesus.
Faintly, a melody begins to drift through the dungeon’s midnight darkness. Soft, but insistent, it wakens the occupants. The two preachers are singing! The melody gives way to prayers and chants, then joyous singing again. Other prisoners listen and wonder why these Christians sing.
You may recognize the story of the imprisonment of Paul and Silas. It’s recorded in the sixteenth chapter of Acts. If so, you know the singing was the overture to a miracle. Even so, reading the story, I can’t help pondering the reason Christians sing even in the darkest of times.
I think it’s the message we share with the world. It’s a message to bring joy in adversity. The message is God loves us so much He sent His only Son into the world to suffer and die in our behalf. It’s a message of redemption, victory, and eternal life. It’s a message destined to put melody in the heart.
The message is the source of joy and joy is the fountain of song. Moreover, song is one way to spread the message and the joy.
The apostle Paul admonished Christians in Ephesus to “be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;” (Eph 5:18-19 American Standard Version.) You see, when we sing praises to God, we are not just singing to God, important as it is. We also speak to one another. As Paul and Silas sang in the prison, “the prisoners were listening to them;” (Acts 16:25 ASV.)
I recently attended the funeral of an elderly Christian acquaintance. She had previously planned her own memorial service in careful detail. Regarding the music, she instructed, “sing the hymns with gusto.” I believe she had gotten the message!
Let the message beget the melody and let the melody express the message. Together, melody and message will speak to the heart, mind, and soul of a person. The Heavenly Father planned it so.
And so, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms (and) hymns (and) spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.” (Col 3:16 ASV.)
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Member Comments
Member Date
Virginia Gorg09/02/06
"Sing the hymns with gusto" - if only we all would do that. Nice retelling of a familiar story. Good use of words and descriptions.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/02/06
A truly wonderful message...but hard on the eyes with no paragraph spacing; however, I'm glad I read it. Very nicely done.
Patrick Oden09/04/06
I totally forgot about this story and it is so perfect for this topic. You remind us how potent music can be as worship, as thanksgiving and as spiritual discipline. Music isn't just fun, it's powerful. This is a keeper!

In the first part you might try showing rather than telling, giving us a brief scene of the prison, and maybe dialogue in the jail, which then leads into your broader point.