The availability of recorded music has rendered music and song so ubiquitous that the intrinsically ephemeral nature of this art form, considered by Etienne Gilson to be ‘an art of time’, is seldom appreciated. And yet, the contingency of the being of music prompts us to consider the contingency of being itself, so that music–and, more specifically, song–can be used as a theological image.
St Augustine said that ‘only the lover sings’, and the Lover is none other than God, whose love moves him to sing creation into being. As such, we can think of creation as God’s song, and the Holy Trinity as the divine musician. The Father is the origin of the song. One might say that he knows the tune in his intellect. But without words, and without breath to produce the sound, this tune is not yet a song. When the Father sings, then, it is also by his Word and with his Breath–both of which proceed from him–that the song of creation is being sung and sustained in being. For the entire Trinity is involved in the act of creation. Once the singer stops singing the song dies; so, too, does creation, with all its polyphonic beauty and variety, depend entirely on God for its existence and development.
Philip Ball’s exploration of the musical ‘instinct’ in the human person contends that there is something uniquely human about our ability to hear and make music; it is ‘a part of what we are and how we perceive the world’. This contention is consonant with our image of creation as God’s song and of God as the divine musician. Our creation in God’s image and likeness implies that we, too, are musical. As musical creatures, we are uniquely positioned to enjoy God’s creation and to be creative.
Into the symphony of creation, a solo voice is sounded that, as Benedict XVI put it, is ‘so important that the significance of the entire work depends on it.' In the Scriptures, the coming of Christ is heralded by a fresh outburst of song that culminates in the new song of the redeemed (cf Apoc. 14:3). For Christ not only adds his voice to the song of creation but also becomes a part of it and, by his redeeming work, introduces a new song. Hence, the eternal Word has taken on the flesh of music, so that, as St Clement of Alexandria said, Christ has become incarnate as the New Song.
For us Christians, then, being called to sing the new song of the redeemed means to harmonize our lives with Christ, sustaining the life of grace, the new song that we sing, with the breath of the Holy Spirit. For without him, we would be asphyxiated, unable to sing anything; but with him, our lives can be beautiful and mellifluous like the New Song that is Jesus Christ. Our lives of Christian sanctity thus become a love song that attracts others to God, the Lover of all that is.
 cf. Josef Pieper, Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990).
 Ball, The Music Instinct (London: Vintage Books, 2011), 31.
 Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, §13
 Cited in Stapert, A New Song for an Old World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 51ff.