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Christian Union
September 6, 2016

New York City Salon Features Seth Ward

by Eileen Scott, Senior Writer

seth-wardAt a salon sponsored by Christian Union New York City, musician Seth Ward countered the philosophical notion that man's ability to think uniquely defines his existence. In his presentation, "The Mark of the Maker: The Musical Soul," Ward contended that humans have God's rhythmic signature engraved upon their souls, marking them as His beloved.

The pianist's love of music and deep Christian faith were evident during a discussion that ranged from historical to whimsical. Ward, the music director at Central Presbyterian Church in New York, discussed the ancient chords and rhythms uncovered by archeologists and noted how these early songs and chants have been interwoven into timeless classical, contemporary, and iconic works.

"The pentatonic scale is the most basic thing we have," he noted. "Almost every melody you have comes from that." To demonstrate the point, Ward played various songs on the piano, from classical works to Looney Tunes melodies, all of which possessed chords similar to the ancient scale. This, he explained, showcases the unified musical spirit that binds together humanity.

The Christian Union New York City salon drew attendees from various fields of work and study. They were, in a sense, the embodiment of Ward's contention—that music is the entity of the human self that unites all persons through time, regardless of generation or position.

Music, he contended, binds the natural self with the Divine and resonates as an infinite language which is universally understood.

"All man is musical," said Ward. "Music is spiritual...Psalms is the biggest book of the Bible. Jesus quoted Psalms the most."

Despite the melody written on the heart of man by God, contemporary musical society doesn't honor the sacred essence of song.

"Today musicians are pressed to believe in an atheistic idea of music and art. It's almost like you can't mention anything about God," he said. "It's the most bizarre thing imaginable. Can you imagine going into a Bach mass and not be pressed to think of God? We don't give artists that liberty, even when religion is part of our culture. We are asked to cut it off."

The cultural impact of the sacredness of music is what made this topic an important one for Christian Union New York City and its director, Scott Crosby.

"We tend to categorize music as general and secular or Christian," Crosby said. "This hinders our understanding of how and why God created us as musical creatures. It was helpful to learn how we can understand music in more redemptive ways."

"Seth gave an excellent presentation that provided background, context, and practice to the topic. Most attendees have asked for a follow-up salon on music."

These salons feature a broad range of topics and seek to encourage and equip Christians to engage culture more comprehensively.

"Music and the arts are certainly part of this scope, as are finance, education, media, and other sectors," said Crosby.