Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lloyd-Jones on Barth's Morning Pick-Me-Up

Something Jason said about Mozart in his post on The Digital Karl Barth Library reminded me of a comment Martyn Lloyd-Jones made on the benefit of music to ministers starting their day of studying. Lloyd-Jones is dealing with the preparation of the preacher before the preparation of the sermon. In this discussion he uses Barth's delight in Mozart as an illustration.
Someone recently said to me that he was astonished when reading the obituary notices at the time of the death of Karl Barth to find that Barth used to start the morning by listening to a record of music by Mozart. He said that he could not understand this. I said, 'What is your difficulty?' 'Well,' he replied, 'I am surprised that a thinker like Karl Barth went to Mozart; I would have expected him to go to Beethoven or Wagner or perhaps Bach.' He was astonished. My feeling about this man was that he evidently did not know the real value of music, or how to use it. 'I can tell you why Karl Barth went to Mozart' I said, 'He did not go to him for thoughts or ideas, he went to Mozart because Mozart did something to him in a general sense. Mozart put him into a good mood, and made him feel happy in his spirit. He released him, and set him free to do his own thinking.' A general stimulus in that way is often more helpful than a more particular intellectual one. The man himself is bigger than his intellect. Is not that the reason why the prophets of old had music played to them on the harp or some other instrument? . . . Anything that does you good, puts you into a good mood or condition, anything that pleases you or releases tensions and relaxes you is of inestimable value. Music does this to some in a wonderful way. . . . So put on your gramophone record, or whatever it is -- anything you know that will help you.
(Preaching and Preachers, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972. p. 183)

Maybe it really is true that Mozart Makes You Smarter. I love Mozart, so I'm holding out hope.