Lyrical Lessons

Songs can be great springboards for teaching and discussion in a Sabbath School setting. Though many of the ideas and philosophies expressed in contemporary music are clearly contrary to biblical wisdom, some outstanding songs point people to the truth or align with the Bible’s teaching.

Truth is truth, wherever we find it. We may not like the messenger, but if the message lines up with the Word of God, then it is true. We find an example of this in Acts 17. Observing the abundance of idols in Athens, Paul uses the Athenians’ altar to an unknown God as the launching pad for his message. He quotes one of their pagan poets to make a point. Today, we can use the poets -- both pagan and Christian -- who write popular songs to make points as we teach.

Here are a few ways to use music in teaching.

In a Sabbath School class select a song that deals with the theme of your lesson. Play it as an opener to your discussion.

For a seekers’ class, arrange for a soloist or group to perform a song live. Many songs evoke a powerful response from the listener and can launch lively discussions.

With individuals who enjoy music, all you need to say is, “You’ve got to hear this song!” Then play the song and discuss it with them.

You may wish to collect some of your favorite “teaching” songs on a cassette tape that will always be handy when a teachable, musical moment arises.

The following songs could get you started. This is not an endorsement of the particular artists or other songs they have performed. But these songs are gems of truth found in a pile of good and bad. Lyrics can often be found on the Internet at Web sites devoted to the particular group or artist.

  • Jesus’ return. Todd Snider, “Somebody’s Comin’, ” from Songs for the Daily Planet.
  • Deterioration of society. Bob Dylan, “Everything’s Broken,” from Oh Mercy.
  • Communication. Mike and the Mechanics, “Living Years,” from Living Years.
  • Forgiveness. Don Henley, “The Heart of the Matter,” from The End of the Innocence.
  • Racial divisions. Pierce Pettis, “Legacy,” from While the Serpent Lies Sleeping.
  • Adultery. Pierce Pettis, “He Burns for Her,” from While the Serpent Lies Sleeping.
  • Raising children. Harry Chapin, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” from Anthology.
  • Rejecting the truth. Kansas, “Chasing Shad­ows in the Night,” from Vinyl Confessions.
  • Book of Ecclesiastes. Kansas, “Dust in the Wind,” from The Best of Kansas.
  • Real love. Billy Dean, “You Don’t Count the Cost,” from Greatest Hits.
  • Restored relationships. Sting, “Fortress Around Your Heart,” from Fields of Gold.
  • Child abuse. Suzanne Vega, “Luka,” from Solitude Standing.
  • Alcoholism. Collin Raye, “Little Rock,” from Direct Hits.

John Green
© 2006 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists