Music is interesting and very much enchanting. Words woven with notes, or notes woven with words, or just the notes themselves can tickle your heart and bring about a multitude of feelings. It can touch your mind and launch a thousand memories, even relive a long-forgotten dream.
It has been with us- enchanting us- since time immemorial. Odes to triumph and losses, hymns of love and sorrow, symphonies of bliss and melancholy– men have enveloped a plethora of emotions and themes in musical pieces.
Music’s irrefutable charm has enthralled many, including me, and perhaps you too. Personally, I have viewed music as a way to connect with others, a way to confirm that “Oh, the writer has the same sentiments as mine”. And as I tried to craft songs too— on plain papers, on edges of lecture notebooks, and on my phone— I realized that it is a wonderful outlet for my emotions.
But, throughout the years, I have learned that music can be so much more than that. Bro. Eli Soriano, a man of music and a much-loved evangelist celebrating his 50th year of service to God this year, has taught me important things about this well-adored indulgence.
Music, how old is it really?
You have probably come across this question once, in one way or another: How old is music, really? I love music, but I do not know its history, and it seemed quite absurd. Knowing its history can make me appreciate it more, I thought. But for a long time, I have this question left unanswered. Even the answers provided by the superb searching prowess of Google were not much of a satisfaction. But thank God, one evening, during a music festival’s grand finals night, I was able to hear the answer.
“Music is older than the world and praise songs are the oldest of musical kinds,” Bro. Eli shared citing the Bible verse Job 38:7:
When the morning stars sang together, and all the songs of God shouted for joy?
It was a joy to have a question answered, and I even got a bonus— I learned what was the oldest among all sorts of music!
Why sing praise songs?
Today, one pressing fact is that praise songs are not the ones considered by many as LSS-worthy. Scan someone’s playlist, and more often than not, praise songs are not included. But why? Are there too few artists composing such kind of music? Is there no market for these songs? For whatever reasons that may be brought about, the point is, men have been missing the great bounty singing praise songs brings.
Bro. Eli is always adamant in emphasizing the benefit of making and singing songs dedicated to our Creator’s works and loving kindness. In one musical summit of the Members Church of God International (where he is the Presiding Minister), he revealed that “singing to God is one of the few things that we can do directly to Him. We cannot serve God with our hands. But we can offer him the fruit of our lips, praising His name.”
Below, I share some words that Bro. Eli himself posted through his Twitter account. These are few reasons why we must keep our “devotion of singing and writing songs of praise to God.”
Through these words, I have found the ultimate inspiration to go on humming praise songs every now and then. Anyway, as what Bro. Eli also told, it is not the voice from our vocal cords that counts— it is that voice from our hearts.
Music, for the benefit of others
Indeed, music, praise songs especially, offers us a grand meed, but it does not end there. Being a philanthropic man Bro. Eli is (he maintains orphanages and an infant care center and regularly mounts medical and legal missions), he used music as an avenue to help others.
Through the proceeds of the albums he made through the years, he was able to sustain the charitable projects he initiated and launched. Aside from the albums that serve as a compilation of his beloved songs, he has also held concerts that nonetheless aid in the maintenance of his public service programs.
With these albums and concerts celebrating good music, I, along with fellow supporters, am also given the opportunity to reach out to the needy alongside having relaxation and entertainment. Having music icons such as John Claude Gummoe of The Cascades, The Platters, Air Supply and the Asia’s Queen of Songs Pilita Corales, seen live on stage is just one big bonus.
Music truly is a precious treasure for us. Its “magic” has given refuge to men who seek to express their emotions and feelings stylishly, and has provided sanctuary to men who look for sense of belonging, a confirmation that what they feel is universal. More importantly, through the things I have learned from Bro. Eli, I realized how music can bring us closer to God, and how it can bring our charities closer to people.
Ingkong, your senescence has taught us how
From our youthful years we ought to meekly bow
Before our Creator, remember Him and with faith,
Growing to perfection, trust Him each of our fate.
Ingkong, those past years, to you He dearly gave,
You spent wisely, to us have this deeply engraved:
Life is meaningful if served with no reservation,
If deeds are done with love of pure intention;
Ingkong, as you go on with your faithful fighting,
We look beyond the horizon with utmost hoping–
The strength to go on, may He continually lend
And may he let us walk with you until the end;
To Him, our Creator, we pray with ardor and fervor,
May we be worthy to reach that blissful forevermore.
This poem is a tribute to a much-loved Filipino evangelist, Bro. Eli Soriano. This man who holds God’s words very close to his heart is fondly called by his friends as Ingkong, a Tagalog word for grandfather. As much as he is a loving Ingkong to his relatives, he is also devoted in his service to humanity. His philanthropic efforts – free education, medical-dental-legal missions and blood drives among others- reflect his care for his fellowmen, notwithstanding their color or religion. Above all, Bro. Eli puts prime esteem to God whom he owes his wondrous journey here on Earth.
On April, our dearly cherished and beloved Ingkong will be celebrating his 50th year of service to God and to humanity. May the coming days bring more fruitful opportunities to this man who has touched and will touch more lives through his works of charity! Happy 50th Birthday Ingkong!
(Photo from Marc Buena‘s Flickr Account)