Skip to content ↓

Make Your Life a Song!

Make Your Life a Song

On a number of occasions I’ve come across the story of Mendelssohn and the Freiburg organ. The story may be apocryphal, but it still serves its purpose as a vivid illustration. I love this telling of the tale by J.R. Miller and the important lesson that accompanies it.

A perfectly holy life would be a perfect song. At the best while on earth, our lives are imperfect in their harmonies—but if we are Christ’s disciples, we are learning to sing while here, and someday the music will be perfect. It grows in beauty and sweetness here just as we learn to do God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven. Only the Master’s hand can bring out of our souls the music that slumbers in them. A violin lies on the table silent and without beauty. One picks it up and draws the bow across the strings, but it yields only wailing discords. Then a master comes and takes it up and he brings from the little instrument the most marvelous music. Other men touch our lives and draw from them only jangled notes; Christ takes them, and when He has put the chords in tune He brings from them the music of love and joy and peace.

It is said that once Mendelssohn came to see the great Freiburg organ. The old custodian refused him permission to play upon the instrument, not knowing who he was. After much persuasion, however, he granted him permission to play a few notes. Mendelssohn took his seat, and soon the most wonderful music was breaking forth from the organ. The custodian was spellbound. At length he came up beside the great musician and asked his name. Learning it, he stood humiliated, self-condemned, saying, “And I refused you permission to play upon my organ.” There comes One to us who desires to take our lives and play upon them. But we withhold ourselves from Him, and refuse Him permission, when if we would only yield ourselves to Him, He would bring from our souls heavenly music.

Come what may, we should make our lives songs. We have no right to add to the world’s discords, or to sing anything but sweet strains in the ears of others. We should play no note of sadness in this world, which is already so full of sadness. We should add something every day to the stock of the world’s happiness. If we are really Christ’s, and walk with Him, we cannot but sing.


  • The Path to Contentment

    The Path to Contentment

    I wonder if you have ever considered that the solution to discontentment almost always seems to be more. If I only had more money I would be content. If I only had more followers, more possessions, more beauty, then at last I would consider myself successful. If only my house was bigger, my influence wider,…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 22)

    A La Carte: Why my shepherd carries a rod / When Mandisa forgave Simon Cowell / An open mind is like an open mouth / Marriage: the half-time report / The church should mind its spiritual business / Kindle deals / and more.

  • It Begins and Ends with Speaking

    It Begins and Ends with Speaking

    Part of the joy of reading biography is having the opportunity to learn about a person who lived before us. An exceptional biography makes us feel as if we have actually come to know its subject, so that we rejoice in that person’s triumphs, grieve over his failures, and weep at his death.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (April 20)

    A La Carte: Living counterculturally during election season / Borrowing a death / The many ministries of godly women / When we lose loved ones and have regrets / Ethnicity and race and the colorblindness question / The case for children’s worship services / and more.

  • The Anxious Generation

    The Great Rewiring of Childhood

    I know I’m getting old and all that, and I’m aware this means that I’ll be tempted to look unfavorably at people who are younger than myself. I know I’ll be tempted to consider what people were like when I was young and to stand in judgment of what people are like today. Yet even…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 19)

    A La Carte: The gateway drug to post-Christian paganism / You and I probably would have been nazis / Be doers of my preference / God can work through anyone and everything / the Bible does not say God is trans / Kindle deals / and more.