JOPLIN, Mo. —
There's just something about the soothing music of a harp. Even 3,000 years ago, servants of King Saul knew that the sounds coming from this beautiful instrument were able to have a healing effect on people.
Of course, they could not explain the reason, since scientific knowledge was not advanced enough to offer a hypothesis. However, they did know that something amazing happened to people when the harp was played. Saul was a prime example. The harp brought moments of peace and well-being to the ailing king as the music eased his suffering.
Today it is clear. Medical research, studies and testing show positive effects resulting from playing of the harp. Specifically, the vibration of the harp, as opposed to other instruments such as the guitar or violin, appears to resonate with the healthy vibration of the human being.
Mark Barger understands this. Although the Joplin man and his wife, Carolyn, have incorporated Native-American flutes, drums and crystal bowls in much of their Advent Gospel Ministries, their non-denominational Christian outreach has also come to realize the physical and spiritual effects of the harp.
Barger refers to the harp as a healing instrument that serves as good accompaniment to the Native-American flute.
Of the four different types of harps used in the Bargers' ministry, the latest addition is a 22-string Atara Nevel. This harp -- made by Micah and Shoshanna Harrari at their shop in Jerusalem -- was recently presented to the Bargers, who met the Harraris through a mutual friend.
The Harraris' shop, the House of Harrari, produces harps using wood that is believed to have ties to Solomon's first temple, said Barger, a native of Loma Linda, Calif.
What is so unique about the Atara Nevel is that its artwork and carvings concentrate on the gospel, allowing the Christian message to be told in a musical setting.
One example is the sound board, which is an artist's rendition of the "Tree of Life," representing eternal life readily flowing to all those willing to accept it.
On the crown of the harp is a silver dove with an olive branch, and on the sides of the crown are two menorahs, symbolic of creation as well as being created again with a new birth in Christ.
Above the dove is a deep green emerald stone in silver.
"This is the stone of the Levite Tribe and symbolizes the priesthood of all believers," Barger said. "For we are to spread the gospel to all the world."
Two lions of Judah are carved at the base of the sound board, and carved between the strings on the sound board are the letters of the Jewish alphabet -- one letter for each string.
Also hand-carved into the instrument are references to Bible passages.
So, the harp not only offers soothing music, but also a powerful visual aid to God's plan of salvation.
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Mark Barger, who uses the nickname Wandering Bear in his music, soon plans to release his fourth CD, which will bring together pieces performed on the harp as well as the Native-American flute. His music website is www.wanderingbearmusic.com and his ministry's website is www.adventgospelministries.com.