This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: music (Page 1 of 2)

David’s Digest: The Godliness of Music

I took piano lessons from age 5-15, and so music has been a good part of my life. But if you think about it, what is music actually? We all sort of know about it, understand it exists, participate in it when we sing or hear a song, but what’s going on “under the covers”, so to speak?

I would suggest that it is all God’s specific doing, and that it is inherent and literally built in to creation by the Creator. Let me try to explain…

Sound is based on waves of vibrations in the air, like a Sine wave, where the wave starts at a mid point, goes up to a point, and goes down below the midpoint an equal distance, and this repeats over and over. The characteristics of the wave give the distinctions of the sounds: the higher the wave apexes from the middle, the louder the sound is, which is called amplitude, where we get “amplify”, or make louder; the closer together each wave is to the next one in the cycle, the higher the sound, which is called frequency (ie. how many times a wave happens per unit of time). If we were to pipe sounds into an oscilloscope, you could see these represented, and watch the changes as the sound changed.

This in itself shows a constant in creation. But there’s more…

Most believe it was Pythagoras (yes, that Pythagoras) that discovered an interesting “phenomenon”. Two different tones together could be categorized mathematically in 2:1 ratios (ie. the frequency of the upper tone being 2 times that of the lower tone) and 3:2 ratios (the frequency of the upper tone making 3 vibrations in the same amount of time that the lower tone makes 2). Then, if you crawl up tones using the 3:2 ratio, on the 12th iteration, you land basically, with some slight mathematical variance, on the 7th iteration if you had crawled up using the 2:1 ratio, thus ending the cycles of each before starting a new round (this is where we get the 7-note scales and the 12-note chromatic scale, for you musically-inclined folks).

(More details are in lots of places on the internet, but here’s a starting place if you would like: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_tuning. And for anyone interested, the handling of the mathematical variance mentioned above in tuning instruments in more modern times is discussed in equal temperament or well temperament.)

Notice anything about the numbers in the above description? 12 and 7? In the Bible, 12 represents God’s power and authority, or governmental foundation, or the number of completion; and 7 is the number representing completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual).

Coincidence? These are mathematically built in to nature, and shows an extraordinary degree of order. If I had nothing else, for me personally, this would show some intelligence put nature together. This is absolutely amazing to me!

Further, the base structure when notes are played together is called a “chord”, and the base structure of that consists of 3 notes, and 3 in the Bible also represents completeness.

But now, looking beyond that, I believe there are many spiritual representations in music, and how it’s used.

First, God would have us sing to Him. Many, many verses, but here are a couple:

Ps 105:2 – “Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

Ps 135:3 – “Praise the Lord; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.

In fact, the Psalms are really songs. Sue and I sing them each night in family worship, using a Psalter (here’s the last set of Psalms we recorded to help people learn them: Psalm Singing – August 2020).

Usually in any song, there is the melody, or the tune we might all know, and the other parts sung with the melody that form chords which sound good together, which are called harmony parts, all working together to make the music, and to make it sound better. I think one can glean a couple things from this:

  • This is similar to the body of Christ, His people, working together in…wait for it…harmony (see this definition). 🙂

    1 Cor 12:12-14 – “12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.

  • Not everyone in the Church has the same function, and yet they are all important for the complete picture:

    1 Cor 12:15-20 – “15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

Another thing that I think can be observed: when an orchestra with multiple kinds of instruments, and multiples of those, play together, there is usually a conductor. His job is:

  • To help lead and keep everyone together as they make their way in unity and not chaotically to the end, and the orchestra follows the conductor’s lead
  • To help with the interpretation of the original composer’s intent
  • To set the speed (or “tempo”) of how fast the music is played, with the idea it’s not about how quickly you get to the end, but how you get there

To me, this is similar to the Church, where:

  • Pastors and leaders help guide Christ’s flock through their earthly pilgrimage to the end, helping keep away from chaos and instead in unity, and the people follow their lead as it conforms to scripture:

    Heb 13:17 – “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

  • Pastors and leaders should rightly divide God’s word (the composition) as to how God would have it interpreted:

    2 Tim 2:15 – “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

  • Our Christian walk is not about how quickly we get to the end, but how our pilgrims’ progress in this life is to be travelled as the Lord would have for us, in the manner in which He would have us get there:

    1 Cor 9:24 – “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

    Heb 12:1 – “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

All in all, I believe music is a gift architected into creation by the Lord, thus revealing Himself in nature, and is to be used for His glory and means by which we worship Him, and which is also graciously something we can enjoy as we praise and give thanksgiving to so great a God!

— David

Song – The Armor of God

After putting together a little song to help remember the names of God, called Jehovah is His Name!, I had wanted to do something with the armor of God, which over the last few years has become more of a focus in Sue and my spiritual walks.

Here is the Scripture text I used:

Ephesians 6:10-18:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

I had a tune I had already written called “I Hate Cockleburs”, in honor of the time spent pulling them out by hand in our 11-acre north field, and since, continuing to sweep that field, clearing them twice yearly before they seed out. The “lyrics” went like this:

I hate cockleburs, yes I do
I hate cockleburs, how ’bout you?
I hate cockleburs, I hate cockleburs,
I hate cockleburs, yes I do!

(On a doctrinal aside, I don’t “hate” them as I hope I hate sin. And actually, I recognize weeds and the like as a reminder of God’s hatred of sin when He cursed the ground [see Gen 3:17-19] and His perfect wisdom and goodness in bringing them forth. And so, I use the word “hate” as something of typical usage, and because it fit with the tune’s meter. 🙂 But, to return…)

The cockleburs were indeed a pain. But, the effort in pulling them paid off, and there are very few now every year. And each time I try to remember to ask God to weed the gardens of our hearts, so there will be good soil, and no thorns or weeds. See Matt 13:1-23

Also, the tune is in a minor key, and I thought that would work well with a song about armor and battles.

And so, over a fairly long period of time, the Lord did grant I finally finish working out the lyrics with the cocklebur melody, and adding the harmony parts. With this one, as with when I did Moses’ Song of the Sea from Exodus 15, I attempted to stay as close to the actual Scripture verses themselves as possible, trying to use only minimal artistic license to make it all work out. 🙂

This is the sheet music:

The Armor of God

And a PDF:
The Armor of God (PDF)

And an instrumental audio version:


The Armor of God – Instrumental (MP3)

Here, Sue and I sing it with the accompaniment:


The Armor of God – Vocal (MP3)

May God grant us His armor daily so we might resist the devil, and his and the world’s distractions and temptations, and we thank the Lord for His armor and His blessed word, the Bible!

— David

Lullaby – Thank You, Our God, for All Your Care

As it’s been with our other cats, it seems to me their names, or things I call them, lend themselves to musical tunes. And so, I put together lullabies for William and Mimi. Tuscan got a whole hymn. 🙂

Anyway, with our latest addition, Leila, her name seemed to lend itself to a melody as well, something rather lilt-y as it happened…

Her lyrics were simply her name repeated, “Leila, Leila…”, but since the tune also sounded like a lullaby, I attempted to put some lullaby-ish words to the melody, and here is how it worked out:

Thank You, our God, for all Your care
And for Your love and for Jesus there!
If You should grant we see the morn
Help us live lives that will you adorn!

Thank You, Our God, for All Your Care

Here’s a PDF:
Lullaby – Thank You, Our God, for All Your Care PDF

And this is a musical audio of the arrangement:


Lullaby – Thank You Lord for This Day of Care MP3 (instrumental)

And a vocal version:


Lullaby – Thank You Lord for This Day of Care MP3 (vocal)

As always, I’m thankful to be able to take the little tune and put a little something to it that hopefully glorifies God. 🙂

May we always be thankful for God’s care, and for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!

— David

Marriage Marker – 15 Years

Fifteen years ago today, the Lord granted Sue and I be married. Our fathers performed the ceremony, we appreciated our family and friends participating with us, and it was a joyous day!

For me, our marriage has been joyous, and Sue has made that possible. She is a godly woman. She is the most considerate person I know. She evidences God’s graces in her all the time, and she would be the first to acknowledge those are none of herself, and loathes her own sin.

I marvel at her cheerful and uncomplaining willingness to serve others and me, especially in bringing her out from a life of comfort to something of a wilderness, with mud and poo everywhere, often on us. 🙂 She never complains when hauling a heavy 5-gallon bucket of feed up to the goats to go milk them; she never complains when having to haul four 6-gallon water containers up to them in a wheelbarrow; she never complains when she has to carry two of them by hand from the cistern to the house to fill the Berkey and indoor elevated dishwater tank.

We have a ton in common, in beliefs and principles, and even had similar life paths growing up. For instance, we both had sung in barbershop quartets before. What are the “odds” of that happening? (100% when it’s part of God’s plan! 😀 ). We even grew up in the same general area, and attended the same church but at different times. We often wonder if we had ever crossed paths at any time. And then God brought us together in His perfect timing. By God’s graces, we get along extraordinarily well, and she makes our relationship easy.

She has forebeared much with me, and has been a great help. I am ever thankful to God for her, and other than having been given God-fearing parents, she is the best temporal gift I have received in my entire life. If God could have designed a wife/help-meet in perfection for me, she was it!

We have always viewed each other as gifts from the Lord to each other, and in fact, this was the theme of our wedding:

Jam 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

It is how I felt when I asked her to marry me, and still do today.

I considered it so much so in late 2002, with anticipation of asking her for her hand in marriage (after graciously receiving permission from her parents), that I wrote for her a song to God about her as that — a great gift from Him!

After the one time of singing it to her, the song has just been in my head all of these years, with a little help from some handwritten notes and the lyrics saved on the computer, and so for this fifteen year anniversary, I wanted to surprise her with having recorded it and putting it out in a blog post with my thoughts about her.

But, then I thought, you know, she’s the only person who has ever heard this song before, and perhaps she would like to keep it as special only to her. And so, I surprised her with it the other day, and asked what her thoughts were about sharing it as part of our fifteenth anniversary blog post, and she agreed.

To get to that point though, we thought we’d share a little about the engagement day on February 8, 2003…

We spent the day in Carmel, CA, visiting the shops and then planning to end up at the beach later. Little did she know that two of my best friends at the time, Bob and Jeff, were running around purchasing dinner, and getting a table and chairs and table cloths and flowers and a cooler of food and a piano-type keyboard set up on the beach for us…

A couple of funny anecdotes:

At one point, Sue and I went into a shop that had mood rings. She’s like, let’s try them on. Well, hers was all blue, which means relaxed and emotional, and mine was black, which mean nervous and anxious. I thought, ahhh, this stupid ring is going to blow the whole surprise! 😀 Sue did wonder why I wasn’t relaxed and romantic like she was. 🙂

And then, it was time to get down to the beach. Once there, Sue went into the restroom, and right then my friends came out of their restroom and said “It’s not set up…we need more time!” I was like, ok, I’ll try to stall her, and they disappeared before Sue came out. Whew!

And so, Sue and I walked down the beach the “wrong” way for a bit, and then started moseying back the “correct” direction, slowly as much as I could.

Well, as we got closer to the spot, I spied that my friends had completed their covert operations, and we headed toward the dinner table.

My friends video-recorded basically the whole event, and we took a few stills from the video:

Dinner time:

Engagement Dinner

Song time:

Engagement Song

Proposal time:

Engagement Proposal

Putting the ring on her finger after her saying “yes”:

Engagement Ring

And right about then, we turned around to face the sun, and this is what it looked like, setting over the ocean! Wow wow wow! What a gift of timing from God!

Engagement Sunset

Then, Sue and I hung out on the beach for a while drinking sparkling cider, and left when it was darker, and my gracious friends, besides setting up everything and filming it, sat there until we were done and cleaned up everything. It was a wonderful time, and we thank the Lord for it!

To Bob and Jeff: I will forever have a debt of gratitude to you both for what you did that day, handling all of that, filming it, and just waiting there until we left, and cleaning up everything. A guy couldn’t have asked for better friends!

What follows is the song I believe God specially granted me to write (besides that we can do nothing without Christ, I have never written a song with those kinds of chord progressions before). In it, I wanted to acknowledge God as God, thank Him for His many gifts, and then for the gift of Sue (my Love) specifically, my prayer for myself toward her, specific ways He used her to help me in bringing her to me, my prayer for us as a couple, and then bringing all to God’s glory in the end.

These are our continued prayers. May God glorify Himself through us, and may we be godly servants of His and others! I am forever grateful to the Lord for granting me the gift of my Love, Sue!

(Click the play button on the inline player right below the title to listen to it. It was only recorded using the laptop sitting on a pillow on the piano, and I have a slight verbal fumble at the end which I wasn’t going to re-do the whole song over after many takes, but you should still get the idea. 🙂 If you don’t see the inline audio player, you can listed to it by clicking this link.)

The Gift of My Love


Verse 1
Father, may You be praised
Here and now and in the heavens
Father, exalt Your name
Here and now and forever

We bow before You, holy Lord
Singing praise and worship at Your throne
Be magnified, oh Holy Lord
Praying humbly before Your throne

Verse 2
Father, I want to thank You
For Your many blessings to me
Father, Your endless love
Is shown each day to me

You give so generously
Beyond any of my dreams
You give so ever freely
Above all of our dreams

Chorus
And so I thank You, Lord, for the gift of my Love
I thank You, Lord, for her
I thank You, Lord, for the gift of my love
Please bind our hearts together

She’s beautiful, gentle, wonderful, so special
A blessed gift of grace from You

Verse 3
Father, You gave a love,
A gift who sets my heart afire
Father, she’s far beyond
My deepest hope and desires

Her beauty’s endless as the sky
I melt when I gaze into her eyes
Her smile’s as bright as the sun
She’s come to me from above

Chorus

Break
May I cherish her, this Love of mine
May I honor her through the end of time
May I love her as You love your own
Thank You for this Love, from love You have shown
She’s my Love, thank You for my Love

Who’s helped break through the pain
Of hurt and sorrow, a broken heart
You’ve mended me back together
With her You have restored me

And set me free
To love again
Thank You for this love
May it never, ever, ever, ever end

Verse 4
Father, be glorified
By us, the two of us together
Father, our lives are Yours
May we worship You forever

We bow before You, holy Lord
Be magnified, oh Lord
Singing praise and worship at Your throne
Our love eternally before Your throne

Chorus

Chorus

Fine
For Your glory forever
Be glorified forever
Through us be glorified forever
Praise your holy name forever

Amen

© 2003

Amen!

— David

Hymn – I Long for God, The Living God

With the addition of our cat Tuscan, and God granting little melodies for many of our other animals, He did so again for Tuscan, a little tune with the lyrics:

Tuscanosis, Tuscanosis, Tuscano-o-o-sis

(I had “Little Mimi” for Mimi’s song, “Williaminator” for William’s, and “Brodey-so-squodey” and “Nessa-bo-bessa” for their’s, so I went with a little something different. 😀 )

And then once again, it was just a matter of trying to find some words. This one was a little difficult, because the meter for the melody is really 4-4-6, which looking around on the internet for hymns like that produced few results. And so, with there being many with 8-6 meter (common meter), I set out to find one that was 8-6 but sounded 4-4-6.

After a lot of searching and collecting four possibilities, I narrowed it down to the one I liked best, which was I Long for God, The Living God, by Thomas MacKellar, which I found here.

And with just a minor tweak of one line, and futzing with the melody a little to make it work better with how the words sounded, here are the results!

I Long for God, The Living God

Here’s a PDF:
I Long for God, The Living God PDF

And this is an instrumental audio of the arrangement:


I Long for God, The Living God (instrumental) MP3

And a vocal one of just the melody with the music:


I Long for God, The Living God (vocal) MP3

These lyrics have a little more extra meaning to me, which is partially why I chose them…

To me, there is nothing more important in this life, and all eternity, than having God — having the Lord Christ, having His Spirit indwelling in us, abiding in Him, having all our life and existence in Him.

But the difficulties of this life and the temptations of the devil, can spurn us to enter the slough of despond, where we might wish to have this life end and go to be with Christ now.

Ps 55:4-8 – “4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. 6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. 8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

Not only do I believe despondently desiring the end of this life is sin and self-seeking, for which I am responsible and must seek repentance, but we are called to be His servants here on this earth for as long as He sees fit, and we must strive to the end, with His help and by His graces.

Ps 55:22 – “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

2 Cor 12:9 – “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

May we be found in obedience to Him and doing our duty toward Him all our days, for His glory, and we pray for His strength and faith to do so!

Ps 73:25-26 – “25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

— David

Song – Jehovah is His Name!

Some years ago, I thought I should learn the names of God — what He calls Himself in His word — so that I could acknowledge Him as He has declared Himself to be acknowledged. I believe in the regulative principle of worship, in that, the Bible, and thus God Himself, declares how He will be worshiped, and that is to be our sole guide. Since He has given Himself many names, a few of them I knew already, like Jehovah-Jirah (our provider — I even wrote a blog post on that one), and Jehovah-Rapha (our healer), but I wanted to be able to know more of them so I could call Him those in my prayers.

Well, I did a search, and I’m not sure if this is the exact page I found that first time, and I don’t think it is, but it does have the names I learned way back then: Redemptive Names of God and What They Mean, and here is another site that has a similar listing: Names of God (I am not vouching for the rest of the content on these sites):

Jehovah-Jireh the LORD our provider (Genesis 22:14)
Jehovah-Rapha the LORD our healer (Exodus 15:26)
Jehovah-Nissi the LORD our banner (Exodus 17:15)
Jehovah-Shalom the LORD our peace (Judges 6:24)
Jehovah-Sabaoth the LORD of hosts (Psalm 46:7)
Jehovah-Raah the LORD our shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
Jehovah-Tsid-Kenu the LORD our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
Jehovah-Shammah the LORD is there (omnipresent) (Ezekiel 48:35)

While these have manifestations in the temporal world, they really are more about the spiritual relationship of God toward His people.

Also often used in the Bible:

Yahweh (Jehovah, the LORD capitalized in many Bibles) God is eternal, unchangeable, in covenant relationship
Elohim God, strong/mighty one
Adonai the Lord, master

Fast forward until late last year. If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll have seen I’ve written some hymns or lullabies that were based on little tunes I came up with about our animals, which you can read about here under our blog’s music label.

One I’ve had for a while is for our dogs Brodey and Nessa, and the words went like this:

Brodey so-squody, he is not a grody toady

and

Nessa bo-bessa, walla walla professah Nessa

(I often call Brodey “Brodey so-squodey” and Nessa “Nessa bo-bessa” 🙂 )

Those covered the first two measures, but with some tweaks to the 2-measure melody, I eventually filled out the whole tune into a song. I “sang” it for Sue and she thought it would make a good song in the round. Hmmm…..

I struggled to come up with lyrics. But one day, I was thinking about the names of God I had learned, and since there were eight of them, which goes into music evenly, I wondered if I might make that fit into the song — the Jehovah names of God and their meanings, and with that, it would be easier for others to learn them. It might just work…

And so, I started trying to work it out, and God granted I was able to indeed work the lyrics into the tune with some tweaking of the music — Jehovah is His Name! And it worked nicely in the round too!

Here is the sheet music:

Jehovah is His Name

And a PDF:
Jehovah is His Name (PDF)

And an instrumental audio version:


Jehovah is His Name (MP3)

Here, Sue and I sing it with the accompaniment:


Jehovah is His Name – Vocal (MP3)

And here we are acapella, in a four-part round starting every two measures:


Jehovah is His Name – 4 Part Round (MP3)

I think it worked out fairly nicely, and thanks to the Lord for granting this to be able to learn His names and acknowledge His greatness, mightiness, love and care!

In trying to find the original website that had the eight names I learned, I have since discovered there are many other names of God in the Bible (again, I cannot vouch for the site’s content), but it was nice to be able to take these I had learned and put them into something perhaps usable for God to glorify Himself maybe in some way. 🙂

May His name be praised forever; blessed be the name of the LORD!

— David

Lullaby – Thank You Lord for This Day of Care

Not only did I have a little theme song for William our cat, which I was able to turn into a little lullaby, I also had one for our other cat Mimi.

Her lyrics were “Little Mimi, little Mi-mi-mi,” etc., and I often sing it to her as I’m carrying her into the house at night. Wanting again to do something spiritual with it, and although it has some cha-cha-sounding syncopation in it when played a little faster, slowing it down made it sort of like a lullaby again to me, and being short like William’s song, I put some quick lullaby-esqe words to it, and here is how this one turned out:

Thank you Lord for this day of care
And the graces you did kindly share!
If you please grant us rest
May your name eternally be blessed!

Thank You Lord for This Day of Care

Here’s a PDF:
Lullaby – Thank You Lord for This Day of Care PDF

And this is a musical audio of the arrangement:


Lullaby – Thank You Lord for This Day of Care MP3 (instrumental)

And a vocal version:


Lullaby – Thank You Lord for This Day of Care MP3 (vocal)

When I started to score it, I wasn’t sure how to write the syncopation in measures two and four; even though they’re technically 4/3 with the last two notes tied, that just seemed more complicated in trying to read it than to just write it out the way I did, a little more literally.

Anyway, as before, I’m pleased and thankful to be able to do a little something with the little tune the Lord granted. 🙂

We always pray the Lord glorify Himself through us in whatever way He may, and maybe even through a simple little melody!

— David

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