On a golden summer’s evening in June in England we had an experience that moved me deep in my soul. It was totally unexpected, unrequested, beyond anything I had imagined. And I remembered God’s words to Isaiah (although, to be honest, I had to look up the reference!) ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declared the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8). I had not expected such a gift – and yet here it was, and it is one I will remember with the warmth of God’s love washing over me for as long as I have a mind to remember. May you be touched – even a little – by the love of God as you read these words: Music
We step from the bright, warm sunshine into the cool dark depths of the ancient building. Rounding the corner into the main aisle, the place is flooded with golden light streaming through the western window. The stained glass patterns the worn stone floor with puddles of colour, and the intricate carvings stand out in fine relief on the golden stone of the screen separating congregation from choir.
Above us, staring down with open mouth and glaring eyes is a gargoyle, carved from a darker stone, the contrast making him very obvious from below. I wonder what thoughts filled the stonemason’s mind, centuries ago, as he chose his piece of stone and painstakingly exposed the features hidden within it. Was he using someone he knew, now long-forgotten, as a model? It was not a friendly face, and I was glad the place was filling up with people and the light was so warm and bright.
A sense of anticipation – excitement – filled the space. For us it was an unexpected treat.
And then it began. The music. Crashing, soaring sounds that filled the enormous space in waves of glory. Delicate, gentle notes echoing and reverberating around us. There were climbing, joyful crescendoes followed by sonorous, deep notes; then waterfalls of sound which transported us to places we could scarcely imagine. Tumbling melodies, spirit songs.
The young organist’s fluent fingers and delicate touch, led us from calm to storm to calm in tsunamis of glorious sound. The harmonies took on colours of their own – dark green deep notes that shook our very souls; pink and blue delicate tones of lingering tenderness, gold melodies of hope, light and life that left us breathless with emotions rarely experienced.
Divine radiance led us to heavenly realms of wonder yet, at the same time, kept us anchored by the continuous, holding notes that wove through the entire performance.
The music left us breathless and silent in rapt devotion.
No words. No words.
Heavenly music in a place built to give glory to God.
Gloria in excelsis, Deo.