Selections from the Baha’i Writings on Music

We have made music a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high. ~ Bahá’u’lláh

O bird that singeth sweetly of the Abhá Beauty! … in this new age the Manifest Light hath, in His holy Tablets, specifically proclaimed that music, sung or played, is spiritual food for soul and heart. ~’Abdu’l-Bahá

Therefore…set to music the verses and the divine words so that they may be sung with soul-stirring melody in the Assemblies and gatherings, and that the hearts of the listeners may become tumultuous and rise towards the Kingdom of Abhá, (heaven), in supplication and prayer. ~’Abdu’l-Bahá

They who recite the verses of the All-Merciful in the most melodious of tones will perceive in them that with which the sovereignty of earth and heaven can never be compared. From them they will inhale the divine fragrance of my worlds – worlds which today none can discern save those who have been endowed with vision through this sublime, this beauteous Revelation. Say: These verses draw hearts that are pure unto those spiritual worlds that can neither be expressed in words nor intimated by allusion. Blessed be those who hearken. (1) ~Baha’u’llah

The art of music must be brought to the highest stage of development, for this is one of the most wonderful arts and in his glorious age of the Lord of Unity it is highly essential to gain its mastery. However, one must endeavour to attain the degree of artistic perfection and not be like those who leave matters unfinished. (2)

I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be great that this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paintbrush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple. (3)

The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient. (4)

“Abdu’l-Baha said…”All Art is a gift of the Holy Spirit. When this light shines through the mind of a musician, it manifests itself in beautiful harmonies. Again, shining through the mind of a poet, it is seen in fine poetry and poetic prose When the Light of the Sun of Truth inspires the mind of a painter, he produces marvellous pictures. These gifts are fulfilling their highest purpose when showing forth the praise of God.” (5)

It is natural for the heart and spirit to take pleasure and enjoyment in all things that show forth symmetry, harmony, and perfection. For instance, a beautiful house, a well-designed garden, a symmetrical line, a graceful motion, a well-written book, pleasing garments – in fact, all things that have in themselves grace or beauty are pleasing to the heart and spirit – therefore it is most certain that a true voice causes deep pleasure. (6)

Sources: 1. Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Para. 116. 2. ‘Abdu’l-Baha, translated from the Persian. 3. Ibid. 4. Talk of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace. P 52 5. ‘Abdu’l-Baha cited in Lady Bloomfield, The Chosen Highway. 6. ‘Abdu’l-Baha, cited in Mary. Lucas, A Brief Account of my Visit to Acca, 1905, pp. 11-14. All quotations from: The Importance of the Arts in Promoting the Faith: A Compilation, Baha’i Publications Canada, 1999. Also of interest: Music: A Ladder for the Soul, Baha’i Publishing Trust, India, 2005.