In his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Oliver Sacks devotes a chapter to the therapeutic role of music with people suffering from Alzheimer’s. He writes of watching people with advanced dementia respond to songs that bring back memories that had seemed lost to them: “Faces assume expression as the old music is recognized and its emotional power felt. One or two people, perhaps, start to sing along, others join them and soon the entire group—many of them virtually speechless before—is singing together, as much as they are able.”

I have seen this occur at Sunday morning services in the Alzheimer’s care facility where my wife’s mother lives. Perhaps you’ve experienced it with a loved one whose mind is clouded, and a song calls forth an awareness from deep within.

Paul encouraged the Christians in Ephesus to “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:18-19). Songs that glorify God can reach the deepest level where the meaning never fades. More than words, harmony, or conscious thought, such music is good for the heart and soul.