It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God (Ned Bustard, Ed., 2013)

Good Music in God’s World
I am not one for mixed tapes. It’s not that I don’t like them—when a friend occasionally makes one for me I’m delighted. I always try to listen to the selections carefully. What I mean is that I don’t make them—they turn out to be my current favorites, and by the time I’m finished that list is obsolete.

Still, I have an 18 track selection of music that I not only recommend, I would ask you to stop reading this, log onto NoiseTrade (http://NoiseTrade/ItWasGood) and download it for free. Please. Do it now.

Then get a copy of It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God published by Square Halo Books. The music goes with the book, and together they are must reading/listening for Christians who want to be discerning about music. Each track is music produced by one of the musicians who contributed a chapter, and together they make a lovely immersion into creativity.

I was delighted about the first in this series, It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God, and equally delighted by this second volume on music. Each chapter explores a different aspect of the topic, from silence to listening to improvisation to instruments to touring to harmony and much more. Written by musicians, theologians, songwriters and musicologists, it becomes a valuable resource for both musicians and those of us who cannot make music but cannot live without it. Reading this book is like hearing from the other side—from those writing the music or recording it or playing it live—so the experience of music is less fragmented and we are better able to see how it can all play out to God’s glory.

At the creation God instructed those of his creatures made in his image to tenderly care for his earth and to cultivate it. Cultivate involves work and is related to the ideas of culture and creativity. As Ned Bustard notes in his Preface:

…at the end of the day, art gets made by the people who show up and do the work.

There is no way around work. As many times as I try to sit down and make art without putting in time and effort, I run right into the truth that it takes hard work to make good work. I often hope that lightning will strike and the first thing that comes out of my pencil will be brilliant. But I have found that happens so rarely that I have been inspired to pen a proverb: good ideas are built on top of the detritus of bad ideas… It is the slow trudge through one failure after another that gets us up to the top of the mountain where the air is clear and Beauty can be clearly seen.

And that is a good thing. The hard work of making is our work. Work was our calling before the Fall, and it still is today. We were made to work and are called to work to the glory of God at whatever we are given to do. And as reborn followers of Christ we are particularly sent out in our day for “rightly ordered cultural labor, the creational task of making and remaking God’s world. We are (re)made to be makers. [p. 3]

Music is part of what is to be cultivated as part of our original calling as human beings and this is why music is so essential to our humanness. It isn’t that music merely makes existence nicer, though it does. It is that music is actually central to our being persons, to our very existence. And because we are made in God’s image it is also, somehow, mysteriously a reflection of his existence and essence as well.

I recommend It Was Good—both volumes—to you. Don’t miss either. Or the music that goes with It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God.


It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard (Baltimore, MD: Square Halo Books; 2002) 324 pages + resources.