Music and its role and effect in the Church is as vast a subject as music itself. Music has both blessed and offended throughout church history, yet church life would be dry without it. Its role has to be to praise God, first of all; then its power to touch emotions gives it a place in evangelism, as we preach the Word through song.
William Booth, English evangelist and founder of the Salvation Army, said: “Music is for the soul what wind is for the ship, blowing her onwards in the direction in which she is steered.” Mr Booth knew that light, happy melodies would relax people and put them at ease to listen to the Gospel message. One of his famous sayings was: ”Why should the devil have all the good music?”
Music is spiritual and therefore has a spiritual effect. The reason music gives us the ability to meditate on spiritual things is not just emotion alone. Its beauty and variation help to lead us closer to God. To quote William Temple: “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God; to feed the mind with the truth of God; to purge the imagination by the beauty of God; to open the heart to the love of God; to devote the will to the purpose of God.” Music is a tool and vehicle of Holy Spirit.
My husband, Peter J Shaw, was a Christian singer-songwriter (7 May 1949 to 29 November 2013) and was born in Derbyshire, England. He had been a semi-professional singer and guitarist for over 40 years in dance, jazz and country bands. He became a Christian in the 80s; he met with the Lord and He delivered him out of occult practices. Peter switched from playing in clubs and pubs to leading worship. We met at Cliff Bible College, in Derbyshire in 1999, where we both studied (the first two paragraphs of this article are from Pete’s dissertation about music), then came to Lincolnshire to minister through music and word in various churches.
In 2013, Pete had a stroke that damaged both sides of his brain and left his heart not working properly. I remember receiving a message and trying to get to his workplace as fast as possible to pray with him. God truly had His hand upon him. A neurologist specialist was surprised to see Pete standing and walking a few weeks following his results. As we prayed for a full healing to happen in his body, God started pouring in the songs. It was God’s leading and inspiration that made these songs happen! I remember seeing Pete continually writing whenever he was inspired; he was unable to stop. Previously we wondered if he would ever be able to play guitar, but he started playing again by playing the chords of his new songs. He was recovering well, and it has been a long journey, but praise God for bringing us both through this. I learnt to play bass guitar just because he needed a bass guitarist, and we’ve recorded the songs together. Our daughter, Lucy, was born in 2007 and she grew up learning the words of the songs as she was learning to speak!
His first CD was released in 2005: Spirit & Truth. The second CD, the extended version of the first one, was completed in 2008. Third, Your Grace, was released early in 2013 with nine songs. When Pete was promoted to glory in November 2013, we were preparing his fourth CD, Only by Faith, and thanks to a great team that God brought together from different corners of the world, we finished it in November 2015!
Pete was a man with a mission: to minister with music and God’s Word. He lived it, breathed it, and spoke into situations and people’s lives to break bondages and set the captives free! He was always seeking God’s will. Matthew 6:33 says ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’
Pete went to be with Jesus on 29th November 2013, but the songs inspired by the Holy Spirit live on, and continue to touch, bless and speak to many people!
Only By Faith is out now on CD, and the songs are also available to download on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and CDBaby, with the majority of the proceeds going to support Indian orphanages. Please visit the website to find out more, download lyrics and chords at www.shawcoastchristiansongs.co.uk.