Midweek Musing: magical musical moments

One Sunday morning recently, Henry, organist at Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, played the meaning of the words in the songs we sang.

There is something utterly magical in music that softens for the penultimate verse with its 'quiet', and 'peace', and then builds the energy (not simply volume) for the final verse's 'earthquake' and 'wind' and 'fire', only to drop suddenly for the final line, repeated, the 'still small voice of calm'. And the congregation followed - certainly the choir had been prepared to help us pick up the cues - and we sang with soft voices for the penultimate verse, and opened our lungs for the final verse, and calmed, our demeanour, our embodiment, conveying the meaning in the words we sang.

If that was not enough, we sang the Psalms for the day, as we often do. The setting for Psalms 42–43 that is #33 in the Church Hymn book 4th edition (used in the Church of Scotland and other denominations here), so perfectly evokes the emotions of the words, the deer longing for running streams, the heart longing for the Divine, my heart felt the thirst of the psalmist. Amen.

I've not experienced music in church that so evoked my embodied understanding of what I was singing, not for a long time. It was magical.


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