Heavenly Music

Our music is an important part of our human life because it resonates with our soul or what we love and believe. And just as there are different species of affections and beliefs, there are many different types of music, from classical, to pop, to jazz, blues, rock, hard rock, and rap.

Through music, we express our affections and beliefs, sad songs when we are in states of frustration and despair and joyful songs when we are in states of love and clarity. The words or lyrics in a song correspond to our thoughts and the melody and rhythm to our affections.

The reason music is important to us is because, like sound, our soul also consists of waves. Our being is a wavefunction. And the whole universe is a wavefunction. In fact, Divine Love is a harmonic wavefunction that restores harmony and order everywhere. We enjoy listening to our music because harmonic sounds tend to restore the harmony and order of our human soul. We can discover a great deal about our human soul by noticing the kind of music we enjoy because this music resonates with our soul. For example, some of us may enjoy listening to jazz music, while others of us may find it disconcerting.

In many paintings, angels are portrayed with harps. And this is not because they spend their time playing the harp and praising God; it is because Heaven is a realm of Harmony. Angels subsist in the harmony of mutual Love; they are affiliated with each other and conjoined to God through Divine Love, Wisdom and Use. It is through usefulness that they are able to realize Love, although they do enjoy playing and listening to music from time to time.

The galaxies, stars and planets in the physical heavens also rotate and revolve harmonically in space because they are in correspondence with the harmonic Love of the spiritual Heavens. The ancients called this harmonic order “the music of the spheres.”

In the Bible, king David was a shepherd who sang and played the harp. Some of these songs are the Psalms of David. Once, when king Saul was in a very negative or depressed state of being, David played the harp, which drove away Saul’s evil thoughts and feelings and restored harmonic order to his soul.

I once heard from heaven the sweetest music. There were wives there together with girls, who were singing a song. Its sweetness was like the affection of some love, pouring forth in a harmonious stream. Songs in heaven are nothing but affections in audible form, that is, affections expressed in modulated sounds, for just as thoughts are expressed by speaking, so are affections by singing. Angels can grasp the subject of the affection by the regularity and fluency of the modulation.

There were a number of spirits around me, some of whom told me that they could hear this very sweet music, and it was the music of some affection, but they did not know what its subject was. They made various guesses, but without success. One guess was that the song expressed the affection of the bridegroom and bride on plighting their troth, another that it was their affection on entering wedlock, another that it was the earliest stage in the love of husband and wife.

Then an angel from heaven suddenly appeared among them, and said that they were singing about chaste sexual love. The bystanders enquired what chaste sexual love was. The angel replied that it was a man’s love for a young woman or a wife of lovely appearance and good manners, free from any idea of lewdness; and the similar love of a woman for a man. With these words the angel vanished.

The singing continued, and since they then knew the subject of the affection it expressed, they began to hear it in many different ways, in each case depending on the state of their own love. Those who looked on women chastely heard the singing as harmonious and sweet. But those who looked on women unchastely heard it as inharmonious and depressing, and those who looked on women with distaste, heard it as discordant and harsh. Emanuel Swedenborg [CL 55]

Having everyone of them harps, signifies confession of the Lord’s Divine Human from spiritual truths. It is known that confessions of Jehovah were made in the temple at Jerusalem by singing, and at the same time by instruments of music which corresponded; the instruments were principally trumpets and timbrels, and psalteries and harps; the trumpets and timbrels corresponded to celestial goods and truths, and the psalteries and harps to spiritual goods and truths; the correspondences were with their sounds. What celestial good and truth is, and what spiritual good and truth, may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell (n. 13-19, and 20-28). That “harps” signify confessions of the Lord from spiritual truths, may appear from these passages:

Confess to Jehovah with the harp, sing unto Him with the psaltery of ten strings (Ps. 33:2).

I will confess to Thee on the harp, O God, my God (Ps. 43:4).

I will confess to Thee on the instrument of the psaltery, I will sing unto Thee with the harp, O Thou Holy One of Israel (Ps. 71:22).

Arouse me psaltery and harp, I will confess Thee among the nations, O Lord (Ps. 57:8, 9; 108:2-4).

Answer to Jehovah by confession, play on the harp to our God (Ps. 147:7).

It is good to confess to Jehovah upon the psaltery, and upon higgaion on the harp (Ps. 92:2-4).

Make a joyful noise unto Jehovah all the earth, sing unto Jehovah with the harp, with the harp and the voice of singing (Ps. 98:4-6; and in many other places; as Ps. 43:4; 137:2; Job 30:31; Isa. 24:7-9; 30:31, 32; Rev. 14:2; 18:22).

Because “the harp” corresponded to confession of the Lord, and evil spirits could not endure it, therefore David by the harp caused the evil spirit to depart from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-16, 23). That they were not harps, but that confessions of the Lord were heard by John as harps, may be seen below (n. 661). Emanuel Swedenborg [AR 276]

Painting Credit: Saul and David: Rembrandt