These words from the great German poet, Goethe, provide a template for a satisfied life; one in which the cares of the world pale in comparison to the riches that God has lavished upon his creation in the arts. Even though the image of God within mankind has been defiled, glimpses of truth and light can still be seen through the creation and consumption of art.
The grandeur and power of music in the human experience is undeniable, making the pursuit and understanding of it an admirable cause. Justin St. Vincent is a man in hot pursuit. Here he is, in his own words.
JSV - Hi there, my name is Justin St. Vincent, and I'm the Director and Founder of Xtreme Music: where Music meets Spirituality, based in Auckland, New Zealand. I recently served on the Fetzer Institute's Advisory Council for the Arts, and this brand new eBook and website project has been birthed from their mission: "To foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community".
My previous publishing endeavors include a book trilogy discovering faith and values through Music and Spirituality by exploring "The Spiritual Significance of Music". I am an Associate Member of the Australasian Religious Press Association, Member of the NZ Society of Authors, and Member of the NZ Christian Writers Guild. My interests and passions include publishing, broadcasting, business, music, and spirituality.
Cody Knox: As many of us dream of doing but find we have neither the time nor the courage, Justin has taken his passion and turned it into a vocation through his work with Xtreme Music, and more recently his editorial work in Love Live Forgive.
JSV - XTREME MUSIC is a digital media platform for producing my projects via online media and print publishing. My projects involve global collaborations with many people around the world. In the past, Xtreme Music has been a broadcasted radio show, music journalism portfolio, micro record label, and promotional organisation. Xtreme Music also branched into book publishing for my book trilogy exploring "The Spiritual Significance of Music". My vision for Xtreme Music is to provide a place where people can explore their faith and values through Music and Spirituality.
LOVE LIVE FORGIVE is a brand new eBook, print-on-demand, and website-based project containing an exciting collection of exclusive interviews with some of the most visionary musicians, artists, and authors. A unique anthology that shares insights and reflections between artists and creativity. My vision for Love Live Forgive is to encourage people to have happy and healthy relationships. The book itself shares insights from a diverse range of artists, providing positive spiritual signposts to point us all upward.
Cody Knox: As Justin described himself and the current stage of life he founds himself placed in by our Heavenly Father, my mind leapt to a larger question – why does Justin have such a passion for music? What has drawn him to devote his life to it?
JSV - Music is an emotive, spiritual, and universal language. It speaks to the spirit, and helps nourish the soul. Music is a powerful weapon, and can be used for good or bad. Intentions are the silent ripples that travel within music from the heart and to the heart. I personally believe that WE are the spiritual significance of music because people bring significance to music. It is people, including you and I, that project significance onto sound.
Perhaps God has even planted a spiritual seed within music to point people back to Him. Spiritual signposts can be found in all creation. Music can be used to bring people back to a personal relationship with God. We only need to think back to a moment when a piece of music has truly resonated with our spirit, and provided a glimpse of the Divine.
Cody Knox: Justin seemed to be saying that music and spirituality are very closely connected. What did he think was the relationship between music and spirituality?
JSV - Music and Spirituality are invisible forces that have a profound influence in our daily lives. I believe that the dynamic relationship between music and spirituality has a powerful relevance to our music-minded generation. It seems there is a spiritual hunger in the world, and my book trilogy, "The Spiritual Significance of Music", exploring music and spirituality has struck a chord with many people. Music and Spirituality are universal themes that resonate with many people around the world.
Our spiritual values are the principles that guide us in all things, giving stability and structure to our inner world, supporting us in the symphony of life. Spirituality is the central part of my being. It informs what I say, what I do, and who I am. Spirituality is the source of my creative process, it is what influences and inspires me to create for others.
Cody Knox: After a thought-provoking interview with Justin, my mind was a hive of activity. Questions bounced around in a logical beat, following some sort of rhythm. Why did God create music? What is its ultimate purpose? The answers to these great questions lay in the words of a Hebrew prophet who answered my question thousands of years before I even asked it –
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing –
Zephaniah 3 verse 17
My question: Why did God create music/what is its ultimate purpose? (these are synonymous) My answer: Music was created by God to show how incredibly awesome He really is. This is revealed generally in the spine-tingling beauty of a four-part harmony or Sibelius violin concerto (in D minor), where man uses his creaturely talents to point back (un)intentionally to his Creator, but is also revealed specially in God Himself.
Man creating beautiful music for each other and for God is secondary to the true meaning of music – God serving us through the Lord Jesus Christ.
God the Father sings over his children with loud, passionate, uncontrollable singing not because they are great and deserving of it, but because they are united to His perfect Son, with whom He is well pleased (Matthew 3 verse 17). Zephaniah uses the language of music to try and convey just how spectacular this love really is.
I think Bach got it right when he said - "The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul." Glorifying God and refreshing souls are not disparate goals, but share a blood-bond. When music is used to glorify God by pointing generally to his creation or specially to his salvation, the soul is refreshed. And when music is used to refresh the soul with its innate power and efficacy, God is naturally glorified for creating such an effective medicine.
With his work and passion, Justin St. Vincent is calling us all to a Copernican revolution of the ears and vocal chords. We have placed ourselves at the centre of the universe, with God, the Rightful Centre, forced to orbit our enormous egos. Our music testifies to the fact that we think we are awesome. However, reality is so much more. God can't be forced to the fringes.
Rather, all things were made by him, through him, and for him. The centre of reality is not little ol' me and my selfish desires, but is an infinitely larger God whose desire is to sing over a blood-purchased people. Justin is doing us a great service by reminding us that the goal of music is not to glorify ourselves, but to lead us to the music-making God, whose chorus saves and soothes our souls. Now THAT is something worth singing about.
Justin St Vincent's book, Love Live Forgive, can be downloaded from: www.LoveLiveForgive.org
Cody Knox lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He works in ICT for the New Zealand government and in his free time he loves to read, write, and run.
Cody Knox's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/cody-knox.html