Mark Lowry is a Christian comedian and musician who is best known as a member of the Gaither Vocal Band. He has entertained millions in live performances as well as CDs, DVDs, and books. I have been delighted by Mark’s singing and comedic antics for many years and enjoy his YouTube videos.
A while back I ran across a YouTube video titled Mama Can Still Sing published September 12, 2012. In this video Mark’s mother, Beverly Lowry, was in a nursing home suffering from a late stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Nonetheless, she was could still sing in harmony and from memory.
Music had played a significant part in Beverly’s life. She was a frequent guest singer on the television show, “The Old Time Gospel Hour” and had performed on Broadway in a performance named Mark Lowry on Broadway, which is still available on DVD. She was also a Christian songwriter. Her most famous song being I Thirst which has been recorded by numerous artists.
Beverly had been a Psychology professor at Liberty University for seventeen years but her once-sharp mind was mostly gone when this video was taken. She couldn’t remember the name of a song she wrote, however, when Mark began singing, she could sing along. Why?
MRI imaging and PET scans have given us insights into brain function unavailable previously. It seems music memories are stored in a different part of the brain than cognitive memories that can be damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. These memories seem related to emotions because a song might evoke emotions such as love or faith. I wrote in a previous devotion that emotions remain after the memory is gone.
Since there is a link between emotions and music, the mind can retrieve the words to a song when the music is played even when it can’t remember the words without the tune. When I watch Alzheimer’s, patients sing religious songs they often raise their hands to praise God. It is evident the song has emotional memories for them.
The Star-Spangled Banner evokes the emotion of pride and patriotism in most Americans. I was in Scotland a few years ago, and our guests sang patriotic songs that were meaningful to them but not us. At the end of our trip, we gathered in a circle, crossed our arms and held hands, as they led us in the Scottish folk-song Auld Lang Syne. Though we sing the song on New Year Eve without understanding the Scottish phraseology, it evoked a strong emotion for them.
David recognized the importance of music for the ceremony when he moved the Ark into the tent he had prepared. He ordered the Levites to have singers and musicians available for the march. Look at this scripture.
Then David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy. I Chronicles 15:16
The music would not only add to the celebration, but it would also create a lasting memory for the Israelites. I have a lasting musical memory of an old time “camp meeting” I attended as a teenager. The large old tabernacle was large enough to contain several thousand people. It had a metal roof and no sides which provided some ventilation on hot evenings. One evening the song leader led us in the song Showers of Blessing. Then it started to rain. The rain falling on the metal roof almost drowned out the music.
I don’t remember the name of the song leader, the name of the preacher, or the sermon he preached. But I do remember the song, and the smiles as the heavens participated during our praises service. Our loved one might not recall many things, but there is a good chance they will recollect songs. It’s stored somewhere inside them. Maybe there is some truth to the saying, “I have a song in my heart.” Perhaps it’s not stored in our heads after all
© Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn