Last night, over 100,000 people gathered together in Chicago’s Grant Park to attend the 25th edition of the world-famous Lollapalooza Music Festival.
The beauty of a music festival like Lollapalooza is not just it’s size, but it’s diversity. Last night’s artists included Lana Del Ray, The 1975, and Flosstradmus. Other acts on this year’s line up include: Radiohead, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Major Lazer, and Third Eye Blind, as well as a hundred or so others.
Over the course of the four-day event, well over 300,000 people are expected to take in the musical festival. But they will do more than just attend. They will participate.
As I watched the news last night, I saws huge crowds of people singing along with the artists. Every word memorized. But not just memorized. As they sang along, their bodies moved in time with the music, their hands lifted up in the air, their faces filled with emotions as the words of the songs came up out of their hearts. They were caught up in the experience.
That is what music and lyrics were created to do – to give expression to our thoughts and emotions, and to engage them deeply.
It didn’t seem to matter if the music was Pop, Rock, EDM, Dubstep, House, Techno, Chill, Ambient, Rap, or Folk-Punk; the music and lyrics were connecting with thousands – deeply!
Why? Because a good songwriter knows how to craft a song that connects to what people are experiencing or even long to experience.
They write songs of joy that get people jumping and clapping, they write songs of loss and tragedy that allow people to move towards their own pain, they write songs of love and the celebration of all that comes with it, they write songs that tell stories of overcoming adversity and being overcome by adversity, they write songs of longing for things to be better than they are, and they write dark songs of longing to die. They write these songs, and people can relate.
They write these songs, and people can relate. Lollapalooza proves what we already know. People are eager to join their hearts and voices to sing songs that connect with the reality and hopes of their lives.
The Psalms were created for that very purpose, too. They allow us to take our joy, anger, confusion, sadness, worry, longing, and even hopelessness and to join our hearts to words. They do not sugar coat life or how we often feel in the midst of it. That is what people at Lollapalooza were singing about and longing for.
But the Psalms do something far more wonderful and intimate than what is happening at Lollapalooza. The Psalms join our hearts to words, and direct them to the God who created us, knows us, loves us, redeemed us, and is restoring us.
When I look out at the crowds at Lollapalooza I see hundreds of thousands of men and women who are longing for an outlet for their experiences and emotions and are even eager to share them with strangers in public. They are eager to do so because their participation also creates a sense of belonging.
As God’s people, we would do well to remember that our worship is designed to connect our hearts and our emotions to words that direct us the God of steadfast love and faithfulness who redeemed us, made us a people, and is seeking the very hearts of all those attending Lollapalooza.