How good it is to sing praises to our God. Psalm 147:1
Nancy Gustafson, a retired opera singer, was devastated when she visited her mother and observed her decline from dementia. Her mom no longer recognized her and barely spoke. After several monthly visits, Nancy had an idea. She started singing to her. Her mother’s eyes lit up at the musical sounds, and she began singing too—for twenty minutes! Then Nancy’s mom laughed, joking they were “The Gustafson Family Singers!” The dramatic turnaround suggested the power of music, as some therapists conclude, to evoke lost memories. Singing “old favorites” has also been shown to boost mood, reduce falls, lessen visits to the emergency room, and decrease the need for sedative drugs.
More research is underway on a music-memory link. Yet, as the Bible reveals, the joy that comes from singing is a gift from God—and it’s real. “How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” (Psalm 147:1).
Throughout the Scriptures, in fact, God’s people are urged to lift their voices in songs of praise to Him. “Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things” (Isaiah 12:5). “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:3). Our singing inspires us but also those who hear it. May we all remember: our God is great and worthy of praise.
What role does singing play in your life? How can you make more time for singing songs of praise with those who are experiencing memory problems?
May I sing praises to You, God. Thank You for so often unlocking the minds of those with memory problems through the beauty and power of song.
To dig deeper, read Psalms: Ancient Prayers for Modern People at ChristianUniversity.org/OT222.
The book of Psalms concludes with five hymns of praise (Psalms 146–150) that begin and end with the refrain Praise the Lord (Hebrew halelû-yāh). In Psalm 147, the psalmist reminds us how much God has loved and cared for us and invites us to worship “[Yahweh] with grateful praise” (v. 7), celebrating His goodness as He draws us to Himself, heals us of our brokenness, sustains us, and strengthens us (vv. 2–3, 6). We’re also to extol His greatness and mighty power in creation (vv. 4–5) and His caring providence for His creatures (vv. 8–9). Focusing not only on His glory, but also on His grace, we’re invited to draw closer to Him, for “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (v. 11). The psalmist affirms that it’s God alone who provides security, safety, and prosperity (vv. 13–14).