Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Beautiful Mystery of Music

This past Sunday we not only honoured our church musician, Doug Dewell, we carried the theme of music throughout the service. I spoke of the central place of music in our worship life and how it unites us.

It happens that I was reading and have now completed the latest Louise Penny murder mystery The Beautiful Mystery, which is set in a monastery in the wilds of Quebec. The brothers of the Gilbertines (a ficticious order) make beautiful music together, singing Gregorian chant. They create an improbably bestselling CD which allows them to repair their 400-year-old monastery but leads to murder-inducing division amongst the brothers. Enter Chief Inspector Gamache to solve the case.

I found this to be Penny's most intriguing novel and unlike some other authors, her later books are better than her earlier ones. Having spent time in monasteries and convents as a retreatant I appreciate the chanting which some find mystifying and i could imagine the daily offices of Gilbertine worship.

On Sunday I quoted John Bell's observation that we can't all speak together, but we can sing together. Music does invites us into a common voice in the way the spoken word can never do. And music can help us express every emotion and open us to praise.

I have invited your comments before on the subject of music, but I would be glad to here from you again. What does music mean to you? Would worship be worship without music? What sort of music is the "right" music for praise?


Stacey said...

I've been thinking about this a lot and I think the best way for me to describe my personal experience with music, is to say that sometimes it stirs my soul and gets me connected, while it waits for my brain to catch up. Sometimes when I hear a message through words alone, it can take a while to process. With music, my body and soul can react and engage, almost as if it's giving the ole' thinker a nudge to listen harder.

You said something recently about how music and scripture can both penetrate when someone may be unresponsive, or suffering with dementia or Alzheimer's. Having two children who are non-verbal, we have also found that music is what connects us to them, when nothing else seems to. We sing our schedules and make songs out of lessons. There was once a time when one of my boys used to bolt and run away, that I had to sing a Wiggles song at the top of my lungs and it would stop him in his tracks and he would come back to me. There is a show on television this season, called Revolution, where the electricity went out across the planet 15 years before. There was a scene where there was a blip of power, that allowed one character to hear music play from a 15 year-silenced radio. My son and I talked about it afterwards and both agreed that life without music would be one of the hardest losses to bare in life. I feel the same if music were not a part of our church experience.

Laurie said...

This says it for me about music. It is words from a Eric Bogle song.(he is in my top 5 singer/songwriters) have all his music.

It is from a song called "The Last Note"
Don't know what music means to you
But that's what music means to me
It can capture my heart
Yet somehow set it free
It can tear me to pieces
Yet somehow make me whole
It gives me hope
And feeds my soul.

Nancy said...

I like that Laurie, will have to find that singer, as those words are how I feel.

As a Louise Penny fan, I await this weekend when my signed copy of "A Beautiful Mystery" arrives.

Laurie said...

Nancy, can give you a CD of his if you want. Let me know.