National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

New Instrumental Version

May 2015

by Sheree Schmaal

They say music is a universal language. A young Lutheran composer is using it to help audiences discover God the creator.

Humans speak more than 6500 different languages. Yet God’s word—as recorded in the Bible— has been fully translated into only 531 of these. Another 2352 have at least one book of the Bible translated—but that’s still fewer than 40 per cent of languages.

They say music is a universal language. So wouldn’t it make sense to have a musical translation of the Bible?

It could be called the New Instrumental Version—an album of 66 tracks that translate God’s word into melodies and harmonies, and reveal the glory of his creation, power and saving grace not through words or lyrics but through instruments, notes, rhythms and keys …

But is it really possible for the Holy Spirit to speak through music?

Composer Kym Dillon believes it is. The 25-year-old member and musician at St Paul’s Lutheran Church Grovedale, Victoria, sees music as ‘a sort of language that can communicate aspects of God that are very difficult to convey through mere words alone’.

His compositions—including two largescale orchestral pieces commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO)—are not overtly Christian or ‘sacred’. Yet he says it’s impossible to separate his creations from his faith in God as his creator.

‘I am fascinated with the human creative process, and our abilities to be creative artists, considering we ourselves are the result of God’s artistic creation, and are also made in his image’, Kym says.

‘I often reflect on my own creative process as a composer through this lens of our God as, among other things, an artist.’

These reflections are explored in Kym’s 2012 and 2014 works for the MSO, LOGOS and Liber Creatorum.

The Victorian College of the Arts graduate says he has found Liber Creatorum (Latin for ‘book of creation’ or ‘book of the creatures’) a great place to start when sharing the gospel with non-believers.

The eight-minute orchestral piece centres around Kym’s interest in natural theology. He believes that if you look at the universe in all its complexity and beauty, and trace these things back in time to their origins and simplest parts, you will find clues about its creation by a divine force, and what the nature of that divine force may be.