A playlist for the New Year

What is it about music that moves us? Why do some songs make us get up and dance, and others move us to tears? The Association for Psychological Science says it’s because music connects the parts of our brain that are responsible for motion and emotion. Yip Harburg, the writer of the lyrics for the songs in The Wizard of Oz, famously said “Words make you think a thought; music makes you feel a feeling; a song makes you feel a thought.”

Can music also move us to take action for creation?

A number of years ago I participated in a conference that brought musicians and environmentalists together in dialogue. Through listening to musical compositions, singing hymns, and dancing to folk music we asked the question, how could sound and music help us listen and respond to an earth groaning in environmental crisis? I certainly found myself inspired by the creativity and depth of response from all involved in the conference.

Maybe you’ve made a resolution to care for creation more this year. Here are four songs to inspire you to listen to the earth differently and take action for creation. These songs are pulled from the playlist “Songs for Earthkeepers” made by Friend of A Rocha, Gordon Matties.

  1. If a Tree Falls in the Forest – Bruce Cockburn

    As Cockburn sings “If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear? Anybody hear the forest fall?” we are invited to consider the plight of our forests, the life within them and their importance for the health of ecosystems.

  2. Feather, Fur and Fin – Danny Michel

    I had the opportunity to hear Danny Michel at Winnipeg Folk Fest last year, and was moved by this song, which imagines mother nature crying for the creatures affected by pollution. It reminds me of the verses in Hosea 4:1-3 which talk about how because of human sinfulness “the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away” and I imagine God mourning for his precious creation. “Every little critter, feather, fur and fin/Cried to mother nature to come back for them/For every piece of litter, for every little sin/She cried for all of them, feather, fur and fin.”

  3. Follow the Sun – Xavier Rudd

    This song reminds me that being in creation is life giving and that I am not separate from God’s creation, but an intrinsic part of it. “When you feel life coming down on you. Like a heavy weight/When you feel this crazy society adding to the strain/Take a stroll to the nearest waters/And remember your place.”

  4. In Labour All Creation Groans – Bifrost Arts

    This beautiful worship song draws inspiration from the verses in Romans 8:18-25. I love these verses because they remind us that all creation is included in God’s dream of redemption. “In labor all creation groans till fear and hatred cease, till human hearts come to believe: In Christ alone is peace.”

I hope these songs bring you some inspiration and perhaps some resolve in the new year to continue on in the good work of caring for creation.

By Manitoba Program Manager, Zoe Matties