A Secret Chord

Martin Luther, both a theologian and a musician in 16th century Germany, is quoted as saying, “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”

Indeed, music seems to forge a pathway straight to the soul. It can be inspiring, convicting, soothing, and just plain entertaining. It can also be destructive in intention and form—eliciting unlovely images or promoting angry, hostile thinking. In short, music is powerful and influential—and in the “right hands,” it promotes peace, love, joy and hope.

For one hour every week, one of my friends shares the good gift of music with others on a beautiful Steinway & Sons grand piano located in the atrium of the 5-story Duke Cancer Center in Durham, North Carolina.

As she expertly plays such scores as Harold Arlen’s classic “Over The Rainbow, ” Leonard Cohen’s pop standard “Hallelujah,” and Claude Debussy’s “Claire de lune,” the notes rise up from the bottom floor where the Steinway resides and touch the ears of those visiting the Center for various reasons.


Some people pause to peer over the railing, others stop to sit for a spell, while still others continue on to their appointments. Each person has a story to which the music can speak. On the occasions that I have heard the “grand Steinway grand,” the chord that it struck for me is this: in the midst of sickness, sorrow, and uncertainty that threaten to break the body and shatter the soul, God gives great presents.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. — James 1:17

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