The New York Times has an article today on how a country's mood has a symbiotic (or at least reciprocal) relationship with song lyrics and blog entries. One of the social scientists who is interviewed mentions that those sources actually reflect our mood more honestly than opinion polls because people don't know that their opinion is being examined.
Of course, popular culture is a mirror of the politics and moods of a people, because it originates from the artists' daily lives. However, no one would dispute that the media shape opinions, moods, and actions. (Isn't that what advertising is for, after all?) Of course, the repetition of most media also creates a sort of running mantra or placebo effect.'
What does this have to do with church music? Well, I was thinking about how singing hymns of optimism, hope, and contentment can affect the lives of worshippers. It isn't that different from the studies of aging nuns and other studies that try to demonstrate the health benefits of faith. Whether your favorite hymn is "Shine, Jesus, Shine" or "A Mighty Fortress" or almost any hymn in the ELW, it will in some way address God's love, omnipotence, and steadfastness, as well as hope and joy in daily life. Singing such songs can only improve physical and mental health.