My Introduction to Heaven's Music
Personal experiences and testimony by Harlan Sorrell
I was born into a musical family and with a naturally intense attraction to music. Some of my earliest memories are of the enjoyable times I had as a child listening to records my mother had of the Chuck Wagon Gang. I was so intrigued by their style of harmonious singing with soft guitar music that it would hold me almost spell bound, even when I was about 4 years old. When I was around 6 years old I began teaching myself how to play the piano. It wasn't difficult for me. It seemed all I had to do was just learn which notes harmonized and the patterns of the various keys, and I took off playing "by ear." The first song I learned to play out of the Evening Light Songs hymnal was number 24, "The Holy Remnant." How I loved, as a child, to play that song! I thought it was just so beautiful!
My mother thought it best, since I had such an interest in music, to have me take piano lessons. So she found a young woman in our area who gave piano lessons and paid for my lessons for about 9 months. But the teacher found that I seemed to do better playing "by ear" than by trying to play by the rules she was trying to teach me. So my mother decided to quit spending money on my piano lessons and just let me do it my own way. But the piano lessons did add one valuable asset to my love for music, that was, the ability to read notes.
I always enjoyed good music, vocal or instrumental, and I also enjoyed hearing the beautiful a cappella singing in the camp meetings we attended from time to time. But in November of 1967, at the age of 10, music took on a different meaning to me. It happened at the Hammond, Louisiana Assembly Meeting that our family attended that year. During that meeting, the Spirit of God had been dealing mightily with my soul about my need of salvation. And finally, on Friday night, November 24th, I made my way to the altar during the invitation of that night's service. I didn't know just what to expect, but I knew I wanted forgiveness of sins and peace with God, and I was coming to Him in faith, believing the promises of His Word. I began praying and telling the Lord how sorry I was for my sins and asking him to forgive and save me. My grandfather, Bro. Murphy Allen, came and prayed with me. Then, all of the sudden, something wonderful happened! I had never experienced anything like it in all my life. Right in the very center of my bosom, I felt it happen. It was like a burst of "new life" came into me, almost like a surge of electricity. Although it was a mystery to me at the time, I realize now that what I actually felt was the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, through the Spirit, awakening my soul from its sleep of death in trespasses and sins. After feeling that initial surge of resurrection power in the core of my bosom, it felt as though my heart began to pump new life through all my veins. I could actually feel it spreading over my body. In about one minute it had spread from my head to my feet and permeated my whole being. Oh, GLORY! I was almost in shock from what I was experiencing, but it was a glorious shock! As Bro. Ulysses Phillips wrote in verse 3 of song number 470 in the Evening Light Songs, "A resurrection I confess, Has taken place within my breast; I've been awakened from the dead, And now I live with Christ instead."
When my grandpa finished praying, he asked me if Jesus had saved me. I was able to answer him without a shadow of doubt, "YES!" The joy and peace that was thrilling my heart was beyond mortal words! My soul had found that well of "living water" that Jesus told the Samaritan woman about in John, chapter 4. And as song number 107, verse 3 says, in the Evening Light Songs, "the taste is so sweet and the joy so complete, its pleasure we never can tell."
I got up from that altar and headed back to my seat, and about that time the congregation began singing "Spirit Holy," number 292 in the Evening Light Songs. In all my life the saint's singing had never sounded so heavenly to me. The harmony that the song was being sung in just seemed to reverberate through my inner being. Never in my life had I experienced music in this way before! There was something that went beyond what my ears were hearing and rang within the very depths of my spirit. It was like everything within me was now in tune with that singing. That was the beginning of my experiencing "heaven's music."
I went home from that meeting a changed boy. I started making amends for wrongs and offences that I had committed toward others, confessing to them lies I had told, etc. And this wonderful music that started ringing in my soul when I got saved in Louisiana continued to bless and inspire me along the way. Time and again, the Spirit of the Lord would bless me with a wonderful and encouraging inspiration of song in my heart, giving me courage and strength to press on. I still enjoyed my piano playing, and sometimes the Lord would even bless me as I read or sang the words of a song while I played the piano. But this "music in my soul" rang so much deeper and richer. The tones of my piano just couldn't penetrate that deep or give a satisfactory expression of the music I was experiencing in my heart. I found that the music that really corresponded with how I was hearing it and feeling it in my inner being was the saint's singing - a cappella.
About that time, somebody brought a tape to us of singing (I believe it was from Guthrie, Oklahoma) and Bro. Willie Murphey, Sr. was leading the songs. I just sat down beside that tape recorder and feasted on that beautiful singing. It was blending with and blessing my spirit. Even my grandpa Sorrell took notice of this and made a comment that someday Harlan is liable to be leading songs like Bro. Willie Murphey.
The months went by and I was growing in the Lord. Around July of 1968 I began to feel that I needed to be sanctified. Although I didn't have a deep understanding of the doctrine at age 11, I knew I wanted all God had for me and that He wills that a justified believer go on to sanctification. Some things had happened that made me realize I still had a "carnal nature" in me that needed to be cleansed. On one occasion I had become so angry about something that I almost committed a grievous sin. I knew I needed the Holy Spirit to come into my heart and life as Sanctifier and purge my carnal, Adamic nature. I knew that the saints taught that in order to be "sanctified wholly" we must make a complete consecration of ourselves to God and invite His Holy Spirit to come in and take "complete control" of our lives. I was already acquainted with the dealings and inspirations of the Holy Spirit through being "born of the Spirit" when I first got saved and by consistently living a justified life thereafter. But I longed for the sanctifying fullness of the Spirit. I pondered this for days.
Finally, one night while laying awake in bed and thinking about God's promise to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him, I thought, "Why not just consecrate my all to Him and ask Him right now to fill me with His Spirit?" So I started praying (silently), consecrating myself to God and asking Him to fill me with His Spirit. Again, just as it was when I went to the altar to be saved in Hammond, Louisiana, I didn't know just what to expect, but I was coming to God in faith, believing the promises of His Word to sanctify and to fill us with His Spirit. I didn't have to pray but just a little short prayer of consecration until, again, something happened! And this time it was deeper, and richer, and sweeter than when I first got saved in Louisiana! Again, words fail to adequately describe it. I felt the sweetest and deepest sensation of heavenly peace begin to settle down over my soul. No, it wasn't imagination; it was REAL! It was just as the author of song number 161, "Blessed Quietness," in the Evening Light Songs expressed it: "Like the rain that falls from heaven, Like the sunlight from the sky, So the Holy Spirit given, Falls upon us from on high. Everything is turned to gladness, All around this glorious Guest; Banished unbelief and sadness, All is perfect peace and rest." It was as though my soul was immersed into an ocean of heavenly bliss. I felt the deepest sense of purity and the presence of God in my bosom that I had ever experienced in my life.
This intense sensation of the "fullness" of God's presence in my bosom lasted for several days thereafter. I was consciously aware of a greater measure of God's presence within than I had ever experienced up to that point. A new and broader dimension opened up to my Christian experience. I experienced an increase of the "fruit of the Spirit" - more intense love (both for God and for others), greater joy, greater peace, more longsuffering, more gentleness and goodness in my nature, increased faith, more meekness, and last, but certainly not least, greater temperance (self control). I found that the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit was the answer to my "bad temper" problem. After I invited the Holy Spirit to come into me as my Sanctifier, He did a real refining work on my nature, mellowed my temperament, and gave me power over my emotions. And when the enemy (Satan) would come against me like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord would lift up a standard against him. This was such a blessing!
If only the world knew what the real answer to their complex problems is! Many troubled souls turn to psychiatrists or "anger management" classes to help them get control of their lives and their emotions. What they really need is to get saved and sanctified! I guarantee that in this grace they would find the solution to ALL their problems.
When, by faith, the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, they experienced a glorious salvation, or deliverance, from Egyptian bondage. But they did not enter the land of their inheritance until they, by faith, crossed the Jordan River. This is figurative of Christian experience. First, "being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Then, by Him "also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Rom. 5: 1-2.)
Many Christians, who know they received a glorious "deliverance" when they first put their faith in Christ for salvation have been puzzled why they have spent so many years "wandering," so to speak, in a "wilderness" experience of repeated spiritual failures, shortcomings, doubts, fears, and lack of overcoming power. Many conclude there is nothing better in this present life. But the inspired songwriter, Elisha Hoffman, gave us the Biblical answer to this problem when he wrote the following song, based on Romans 12:1.
"You have longed for sweet peace, and for faith to increase, And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest, or be perfectly blest, Until all on the altar is laid.
Would you walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word, And have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will, to be free from all ill, On the altar your all you must lay.
Oh, we never can know what the Lord will bestow Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul He doth fully control, And our all on the altar is laid.
Who can tell all the love He will send from above, And how happy our hearts will be made,
Of the fellowship sweet we shall share at His feet, When our all on the altar is laid?
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? Your heart, does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest, As you yield Him your body and soul."
-- Evening Light Songs number 481
This is how a Christian receives the full earnest of his inheritance in Christ! The Holy Spirit will sanctify the gift that we lay on the altar. D. S. Warner, another inspired songwriter, described the obtaining of the full earnest of our inheritance in Christ like this, in one of the songs he wrote:
"From Egypt we started, resolved to be free, And God cast our foes all behind in the sea;
Then straight through the wilderness onward we moved, No halt, we determined till Canaan we proved.
The wide severed waters of Jordan we past, Our lot in the land of all blessings we've cast;
The 'ites' are destroyed, and the land is our own, One King, our Redeemer, we worship alone.
This land is salvation, and holiness pure, We find it in Jesus, our title is sure;
O sweet land of Beulah, thy glory divine, Forever and ever unclouded shall shine.
Oh, we are the seed so happy and blest, That dwell in the land of Canaan's holy rest;
Here streams of pure love are flowing along, And anthems of glory are sounding in song."
-- Salvation Echoes, song number 103
Because of unbalanced and extravagant theories that have been promoted regarding the doctrine of sanctification, some minds have been poisoned and prejudiced against it. It is true that the devil has hatched up false teachings regarding this doctrine, just as he has the doctrine of justification and almost every other Bible doctrine. Nevertheless, every Bible doctrine still remains "in tact," and every sincere and honest soul can approach Christ in simple faith and receive the blessing and benefit of it, whether it is justification from committed sins, sanctification of the carnal nature, healing for the body, or whatever need we may have. Every provision is available IN CHRIST! And the Holy Spirit, the Administrator of the new covenant, is on duty 24 hours a day, ready to distribute what Christ bought and paid for on our behalf. Whatever we need is attainable by a grasp of faith on our part.
After receiving the gift of "sanctification of the Spirit" (2 Thes. 2:13; 1 Thes. 5: 23-24) by a grasp of faith in early July of 1968, how I looked forward to going to the Monark Springs camp meeting, which started on the third Friday of that same month. And when I got there, one of the most wonderful things about the camp meeting was the singing! Just to sit in those services and hear those heavenly songs and feel the Holy Spirit witnessing in my bosom to their inspired messages - oh, what unspeakable joy! The Monark camp meeting of 1968 was one I'll never forget. At that camp meeting my dad bought me my first Bible and "Evening Light Songs" hymnal from the bookstore. I was so happy to have a Bible and songbook all my own. I also got to be in my first ordinance service at the Monark camp meeting in 1968. Oh, what a blessing that was! Always, before I was saved, that was one service I didn't want any part of! It was a good time to beg my mother to be excused to go play. But now it was such a joy to my heart just to get the opportunity to be in ordinance service, and the blessing I received from both the feet washing and Lord's Supper was unspeakable. The Holy Spirit confirmed my every act of obedience to God's Word with a deep personal witness in my bosom that He was well pleased with me. I longed to follow the Lord in water baptism too, but up to that time I had not had the opportunity. It didn't work out for me to get baptized at Monark that year, but during the Myrtle, MO camp meeting, which followed Monark, it did. Bro. Sam Abbott baptized me in Mill Creek, near Myrtle.
Heavenly music continued to ring in my soul. I want to mention one outstanding experience I had during a singing we had here at Myrtle. It was November of 1970, if I remember correctly. Bro. Leslie Busbee was leading the singing that night. Someone selected song number 163 in the Evening Light Songs, "My Jesus, I Love Thee." The congregation started singing that song and, it seems now that it was about during the second verse when, all of the sudden, the glory of God just began to flood my soul. The Spirit began witnessing the depth of the words of that song to my heart in a way I had never experienced before. Oh, it was wonderful! The Spirit just lifted me up into the heavenly places that night and let my heart hear the music of that song in a way that I had never heard it! I was only about 12 years old at that time, but I'll never forget that wonderful experience. No one else knew about it but God and me, but it was as real as anything that ever happened to me in my life. It was one of those special times that He endeared Himself to me and revealed Himself by the Spirit in a very special way through song. This is the great difference in worshiping God "in spirit and in truth" versus trying to worship Him in the flesh and in formality!
I learned that the more "in tune" my heart was with the Holy Spirit, the sweeter the saints' singing sounded to my ears, and the richer its harmony rang in my soul. I came to understand perfectly what Bro. D. S. Warner was talking about when he wrote the song that says, "Sing of salvation, oh, how it fills purified hearts with heavenly thrills! Happy in Jesus, resting in Him, sweetly His kingdom reigning within. Sing of salvation, wonderful theme, See from the throne a heavenly stream: Oh, it is flowing deep in my soul, Flashing with glory as it doth roll. Sing of salvation full and complete, Sing of salvation all the day long; Sing in the Spirit's harmony sweet, Blessed salvation, heavenly song!" - Reformation Glory, song number 46.
During the Myrtle camp meeting of 1971 (I'm pretty sure that was the year) I had another very special experience, and this was a new one for me. The Lord had already been blessing my soul a lot in that meeting. But one night, during the course of the camp meeting, I had a very unusual dream. I dreamed I could hear the most beautiful singing in the most perfect harmony. It was a harmony to a degree of perfection that goes beyond anything I've ever heard in this world. And the music of that singing just seemed to penetrate my whole being. I don't really know how to describe it in a way that would make others understand what I actually heard in that dream. It was almost like what the apostle Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, of being caught up into the third heaven and hearing things that are not lawful (or not possible) to utter.
That was my first experience of having a dream like that. But, thank God, it was not my last one! Through the years, from time to time, I have had other similar dreams. Sometimes, in those dreams, I have heard songs that I know, and other times they have been songs I never heard before. But every time, it is the richest harmony of music my mind could ever imagine, and it just seems to penetrate my whole spiritual being. I truly believe that God, in his great love toward me, has let my soul, my spirit, or inner man hear "heaven's music." While my body and mind was asleep and unconscious to all the physical elements of this world, He conveyed the music of heaven to me through the Spirit. This music has never sounded instrumental. It has always sounded vocal and has conveyed a message. But the perfection of the tones and the harmony has always been beyond what any human voices in this world could ever carry it. The only music I've ever heard in this world that comes close to it is the congregational singing in the camp meetings and special gatherings of the saints.
I'll never forget one time, just a few years ago, when I was going through a rather dry spell spiritually. I hadn't been feeling the Lord's presence real close to me like I like to feel Him in my soul. If I go for very long like that, I get concerned, and I start examining myself to see if there might be some shortcoming or some negligence on my part that is hindering the flow of that "living water" in my soul. That was the place I had come to at that time. One night I decided I was going to get into a greater earnestness of prayer and seek the Lord's face until he revealed Himself to me again. I prayed until it seemed I couldn't pray anymore. And still it seemed as though the heavens were brass. No answer. Finally, I had to lay my weary body down and get some sleep. I went to bed that night trusting the Lord would reveal Himself to me somehow.
As another verse of song says, that Bro. D. S. Warner wrote: "Trusting in Jesus however you feel, trusting in Jesus if prayerless you kneel, If all the heavens as brass should appear, Only keep trusting and Jesus is near." - Echoes From Glory, song number 53. Little did I know what a blessing He had in store for me before that night was over!
I believe it was getting close to daybreak of the following morning, when I began to dream. Once again I began to hear this wonderful, soul-penetrating music, as of voices singing in the most perfect harmony. And the song they were singing was saying, "O brother dear, to keep good cheer, Be hid away with Jesus; For then you'll find your Savior near, Keep hid away with Jesus." All I remember hearing was those words, and then the heavenly music faded away and I awoke out of my sleep. As I lay there and the realization began to dawn on me of what I had just experienced, ripples of joy began to thrill my soul. I had just had a special visit from the Lord! I don't know if He sang to me Himself through the Spirit, or if He sent His angels to sing to me, but the message was real and to the point. I immediately recognized these words to be in one of the verses of number 234 in the Evening Light Songs and I grasped that verse of song as the answer to my spiritual dryness. The glory of that blessing lingered with me for a long time and watered my soul really well. Praise God, He knows just how to cause springs of living water to flow forth in the desert places of our lives if we will faithfully trust and obey Him.
In the year of 2005 I had the privilege to read the personal testimony of Don Piper, a Christian man who was killed in a car wreck on January 18, 1989, near Trinity Pines, Texas. It was a terrible accident and Don was killed instantly. Paramedics reached the scene of the accident within minutes and, finding no pulse, pronounced Don dead and covered his lifeless body (still in the badly smashed car) with a tarp while they worked with the injuries of others. Due to the nature of the accident, it took a long time to clean up the mess. Knowing that Don was dead, and that extracting his badly mangled body from the wreckage was going to be quite an ordeal, they left it to be attended to last.
In the meantime another Christian man, named Dick Onerecker, came upon the accident scene and, while looking on the scene, he felt a special impression from the Holy Spirit to pray for the dead man who was covered by the tarp. He had quite some difficulty persuading the authorities working the scene to allow him to do this. But after being very persistent they finally allowed him to do so. This man, Dick Onerecker, crawled through the trunk of the smashed car and underneath the tarp that was covering the dead man's body, leaned over the back seat, laid his hand on the dead man's shoulder, and began to earnestly call on God. He felt a special inspiration to not only pray for the restoration of the man's life but also for deliverance from brain and internal injuries. He said he prayed the most passionate, fervent, emotional prayer of his life. God's Word says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). It certainly did in this case! Dick broke down and cried several times as he prayed. Sometimes he would stop praying and sing for a while, then pray some more. Finally, he began singing, "O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." Then something marvelous happened - a miracle! The dead man's pulse returned and he started breathing! And then he joined in and started singing too! Do you say the days of miracles ended with the apostles? Friend, this happened on January 18, 1989!
At that point, Dick Onerecker scrambled out of the smashed car and raced over to the nearest EMT. "The man's alive! He's not dead! He's alive!" Dick said. Then he dashed across the road shouting, "That man has come back to life!" The EMT just stared at Dick. By this time the officers and paramedics were thinking they surely had a mental case on their hands! Dick continued to yell, "He's alive! The dead man started singing with me! He's singing! He's alive!" "Oh really?" a paramedic asked. "I'm serious, this man's alive," Dick said. "We're medical professionals. We know a dead guy when we see him," one of the paramedics replied. Dick walked up in front of the remaining ambulance and said to the driver, "That man is alive. Go look at him!" "He's dead," was the reply. "Then humor me. Just feel his pulse," Dick pleaded. "Okay, we'll check him for you," the man said, mumbling under his breath. He then walked over to the car, raised the tarp, reached inside, and found the victim's right arm and felt his pulse. Then everyone leaped into action and began trying to figure out how to get the victim out! He really was alive, and he had been dead for an hour and a half!
Don's body was finally extracted from the terrible wreckage and he was rushed to a hospital. His body was so seriously mangled that his road to recovery was long and hard. He said there was many times during the next few months that he wished he had been left where he was during those 90 minutes that he was dead. Because, during those 90 minutes, he had gotten to experience the heavenly realm. In his testimony he tells all about his "out of the body" experience. And one of the most interesting things to me was what he said about the "heavenly music." Here is a quotation from his words.
"My most vivid memory of heaven is what I heard. It was the most beautiful and pleasant sound I've ever heard, and it didn't stop. It was like a song that goes on forever. I felt awestruck, wanting only to listen. I didn't just hear music. It seemed as if I were part of the music - and it played in and through my body. I stood still, and yet I felt embraced by the sounds.
"As aware as I became of the joyous sounds and melodies that filled the air, I wasn't distracted. I felt as if the heavenly concert permeated every part of my being, and at the same time I focused on everything else around me.
"I never saw anything that produced the sound. I had the sense that whatever made the heavenly music was just above me, but I didn't look up. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was because I was so enamored with the people around me, or maybe it was because my senses were so engaged that I feasted on everything at the same time. I asked no questions and never wondered about anything. Everything was perfect. I sensed that I knew everything and had no questions to ask.
"Myriads of sounds so filled my mind and heart that it's difficult to explain them. The most amazing one, however, was the angel's wings. I didn't see them, but the sound was a beautiful, holy melody with a cadence that seemed never to stop. The swishing resounded as if it was a form of never-ending praise. I listened and simply knew what it was.
"A second sound remains, even today, the single, most vivid memory I have of my entire heavenly experience. I call it music, but it differed from anything I had ever heard or ever expect to hear on earth. The melodies of praise filled the atmosphere. The nonstop intensity and endless variety overwhelmed me.
"The praise was unending, but the most remarkable thing to me was that hundreds of songs were being sung at the same time - all of them worshiping God. As I approached the large, magnificent gate, I heard them from every direction and realized that each voice praised God. I write voice, but it was more than that. Some sounded instrumental, but I wasn't sure - and I wasn't concerned. Praise was everywhere, and all of it was musical, yet comprised of melodies and tones I'd never experienced before.
"Hallelujah! Praise! Glory to God! Praise to the King! Such words rang out in the midst of all the music. I don't know if angels were singing them or if they came from humans. I felt so awestruck and caught up in the heavenly mood that I didn't look around. My heart filled with the deepest joy I've ever experienced. I wasn't a participant in the worship, yet I felt as if my heart rang out with the same kind of joy and exuberance.
"If we played three CDs of praise at the same time, we'd have a cacophony of noise that would drive us crazy. This was totally different. Every sound blended, and each voice or instrument enhanced the others.
"As strange as it may seem, I could clearly distinguish each song. It sounded as if each hymn of praise was meant for me to hear as I moved inside the gates. Many of the old hymns and choruses I had sung at various times in my life were part of the music - along with hundreds of songs I had never heard before. Hymns of praise, modern-sounding choruses, and ancient chants filled my ears and brought not only a deep peace but the greatest feeling of joy I've ever experienced.
"The celestial tunes surpassed any I had ever heard. I couldn't calculate the number of songs - perhaps thousands - offered up simultaneously, and yet there was no chaos, because I had the capacity to hear each one and discern the lyrics and melody.
"Even now, back on earth, sometimes I still hear faint echoes of that music. When I'm especially tired and lie in bed with my eyes closed, occasionally I drift off to sleep with the sounds of heaven filling my heart and mind. No matter how difficult a day I've had, peace immediately fills every part of my being. I still have flashbacks. Mine are more flashbacks of the sounds than the sights.
"As I've pondered the meaning of the memory of the music, it seems curious. I would have expected the most memorable experience to be something I had seen or the physical embrace of a loved one. Yet above everything else, I cherish those sounds, and at times I think, I can't wait to hear them again - in person. It's what I look forward to. I want to see everybody, but I know I'll be with them forever. I want to experience everything heaven offers, but most of all, I want to hear those never-ending songs again." End of quote from Don Piper.
I can say that this brother's testimony of what he heard during the time he was "out of the body," reminds me very much of the music I have heard in my dreams on various occasions. The main exceptions would be the hearing of multiple songs being sung at one time, and I have never heard the cadence of angel wings. But as he describes, the music that I have heard is the most perfect blending of tones of harmony that the human mind can experience. As I said, the nearest experience I've ever had to it in real life here on earth has been in experiencing the congregational singing of the saints, especially at Monark, when hundreds of saints are gathered together.
My mind goes to 1 Cor. 2:9-10: "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
The inspired songwriter, D. S. Warner, once penned these wonderful words in a song: "I seem to hear an angel choir, Down from their shining home, And in my heart their notes inspire, Sweet anthems from the throne. Upon the mount of holiness, We live in heaven's view; And o'er the shaded valley come Their songs forever new. Above, below, one family, A thousand chords of love Now thrill my soul with melodies They chant in praise above. I catch the pure celestial strain That heaven wafts to me; And then my happy spirit sings, 'Oh, glory, I am free!' We echo back the sounds that float Through Eden's balmy air; And heaven shouts to hear on earth The songs they're singing there. Hark! O'er the vale sweet melodies, That echo in my soul Our great Redeemer's holy praise, As mighty thunders roll."
I'm thinking now how that every hymn and spiritual song that the Holy Spirit has inspired men and women of God to write down through the ages of time has been just a little piece, or a little strain, of music from that heavenly world. In our mortal state, we can only "know in part." "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." (1 Cor. 13:9-10.) I really believe that when we get to heaven, we may very likely get to hear every inspired hymn or spiritual song that has ever been wafted by the Holy Spirit from the heavenly realm to mortal man. And, as Don Piper described, we can enjoy them, not just one by one, but all at once and unendingly! "WHAT WILL IT BE TO BE THERE?!!!" Through the Holy Spirit, our present connection line with heaven, we get to enjoy just little verses, choruses, and refrains of that music one piece at a time. By Holy Spirit inspiration "we know in part, and we prophesy in part." But when we get there, it will no longer be "in part," or in pieces. It will be all parts and pieces combined, eternal and unending!
Will there be musical "instruments" in heaven? I don't really think there will be any more need for "instruments" in that celestial spirit world than there will be for marrying and giving in marriage (Luke 20:34-36) or for the light of the sun or the moon (Rev. 21:23). Just being in the presence of the Author and Source of music will transmit a penetrating music through every spirit being, both human and angelic, that will reverberate unendingly through that eternal world of bliss. It will be just as the chorus of number 373 in the Evening Light Songs says, "Glory, glory, hallelujah! Praise and honor to the Savior, While eternity prolong, bless His holy name in song: All the saints in heaven singing, round the throne their anthems ringing, All the saints of God above, singing ONE CELESTIAL SONG!"
We can be sure that the harps we read about in the book of Revelation signify something far more profound than literal harps as we know them! It is also noteworthy that in the transition from terrestrial to celestial the language barriers between all kindreds and tongues and nations of the earth will be dissolved. None of us know what the language of heaven will be, but one thing is certain, we will all understand it. When we arrive in heaven, we may never speak English again, but there will be no lack of knowledge or understanding in heaven. All shall know even as they are known, in the spirit (1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Cor. 5:16). Peter, James, and John had never met or seen Moses and Elijah, but when they saw them with Christ on the mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8), they knew exactly who they were.
Based on my personal experience with the Holy Spirit's conveyance of inspired music to my inner man, both while awake and while sleeping, I am thoroughly convinced in my heart that four-part harmony "a cappella" music, sung under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the purest expression of "heaven's music" that has ever been given to man in his present mortal state. This is what corresponds most closely to the music that has been transmitted to my spirit by the Holy Spirit from the celestial realms.
- Harlan Sorrell, Sep. 7, 2008