From the victory song of Exodus 15 to the “new song” of Revelation 5, it’s clear that man was meant to worship God through both words and music. How else to express the ineffable, the transcendent? This is one of the reasons why Scripture is replete with poetry, which is as close to music as words alone can come. The Psalms, of course, are poems that were set to music—and what I wouldn’t give to know the musical settings that are referenced in so many of them!
During the two years when I was writing Hearts Set Free, the music of Joel and Naomi Stamoolis often played in the background. Joel is a worship minister in Alaska, which, not coincidentally, is the setting for the novel’s opening chapter. He’s one of the most talented songwriters in the country, and his wife Naomi is a gifted musician whose vocals and English horn lend a haunting beauty to their performances. I particularly appreciate his reliance on Scripture for the lyrics of his worship songs.
You can listen to three of my favorite songs by Joel and Naomi below: We Have Been Raised, As I Wait, and Let Justice Flow.
From Pentecost Sunday of 2015 to September of 2018, Joel led the Wasilla Bible Church in singing their way through the entire book of Psalms. I was in the congregation for the first eight months of this powerfully inspiring project (and you'll find many verses from the Psalms that have been woven into the text of Hearts Set Free!). There’s a link to the Church’s website below where you can watch video recordings of quite a few of the Psalms, and an excellent article about the project from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship here.
If you'd like to hear more of Joel and Naomi's music, check out their Bandcamp page.