RELIGION: Can’t remember? add music

Music has always been a powerful medium to convey information. Radio and television advertisers have known that for a long time.

My favorite television ad was in the 1960s for the Buick company. The words are, “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick? A Buick? A brand-new Buick? Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick, than any other car this year?”

My favorite insurance ad has the singing line, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”

Do you remember these? “You deserve a break today, at McDonalds.””Call Roto Rooter, that’s the name… .””Plop Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh what a relief it is.” I could go on and on, but you are probably glad I won’t.

My point is, words that are set to music make an indelible impression on the emotions and make it easier to remember the words. In fact, I remember very few commercials that are not set to music.

To this day, I still have difficulty memorizing. Even memorizing short Bible verses has never been easy for me. However, put Bible verses — even many of them — to music and the words will lodge in my memory banks. I’ve memorized only two or three poems in my life and they are short ones. But I know hundreds of songs and most of them are actually poems set to music.

It’s the music that I remember and the music brings up the words that are buried deeply in the recesses of my mind.

As I was growing up, I seldom listened to the radio, therefore, I learned very few pop songs. But I did learn a few and I find myself humming them at times. Here’s an example.

The year was 1969, Carol and I lived in Everett, Wash., and I worked at the Boeing Aircraft Company. We had just eaten and I was heading out the door to go to work. Carol came to give me a hug and a kiss. But this farewell was lasting a bit long so I sang the opening line of a song, “Let me go, let me go, let me go, lover.”

Carol sang the first line of another song, “I can’t stop loving you.”

We both broke out laughing and were amazed at how messages come to our minds due to music and situations.

At a youth Bible study in Quincy, Mass., one night in 1962, I was asked to quote the 23rd Psalm. I tried but messed up. The words wouldn’t come to mind. One of my friends asked, “You’re always humming tunes and in the quartet, you sing many songs from memory. If you can memorize them, how come you can’t remember the Psalm?” My answer was simple, “It isn’t set to music.”

Speaking of humming, one day back in 2001, my secretary in New Mexico erupted with, “Will you please change the channel? You’ve been humming that same tune for an hour.”

“Sorry, Christina. Would you like to hear the words to that tune?”

“There are words to it?”

“Yes, there are words to every tune I hum, unless I make up a fresh tune.”

“Okay, what are the words?”

I sang the first verse and the chorus. “I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love; I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true, it satisfies my longing as nothing else can do. (chorus ) I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”

Christina, a Catholic, gently said, “I never heard that before. I like it. You don’t have to change the channel.”

That song started as a poem written by Arabella Hankey in 1866, then William Fischer put it to music in 1869. If I try to quote the words to the song without singing it the words try to hide from me. So, yes, I sang it in order to write it.

Most of the songs I know, I learned in church and those songs are about Jesus. In fact, the first song I learned is, Jesus loves me, this I know. The amazing thing about it is, when I encounter a problem in life, a song with an appropriate message comes to mind, and I overcome or solve the problem.

Jesus adds music to my life every day. I could say Jesus is the music in my life.

— S. Eugene Linzey is an author, mentor and speaker. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his web site at The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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