On Sacred Music

This morning I went for a run in the rain. In the arid Southwest, rain is scarce, especially of late. Beyond that, running in the rain has always been spiritual for me. Perhaps some ancient part of me feels baptized or washed away of sin. Perhaps its just the sense of freedom as drivers give me strange looks. In any case, as I ran along, it seemed most appropriate for “The Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel’s Messiah to play on my IPod.

My spirit has long been moved by great art. But music in particular seems to reach my soul. And so music for me is sacred.

For most of us, when we think of sacred music, perhaps Pavoratti singing “Ave Maria” comes to mind. Perhaps you think of a favorite hymn. And indeed on my list of favorite pieces of sacred music are several hymns. But other pieces of music touch my spirit just a strongly as a great hymn. Indeed my spirit soars when I hear Perry Como (not Pavoratti!) sing “Ave Maria”. But my spirit also soars when I hear John Denver sing “Looking for Space”, a song that captures better than an other the struggles of my own journey. I am deeply moved spiritually when I hear Ennio Morricone lead and orchestra in his music from The Mission.

Music bypasses all my doubts, all my questions, all my angers with organized religion, and can give me a strong sense of God’s presence in my life. It is not ideas or theologies or sermons that move me to tears. It is music. When I feel spiritually drained, I am not renewed by reading the Bible or even praying. I am renewed by music.

Here then are a few pieces of favorite music with links to you-tube where available. I invite you to come up with your own list. Feel free to post a link as a comment.

“Looking for Space” by John Denver http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPHWzE8rLpA

“Amazing Grace”. Any of us who have been healed from addiction can relate to this hymn. While I am often moved by bagpipes playing this, I find Judy Collins to sing it better than anyone. After all, she’s been there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5e6IN_YbwM&feature=related

“Hallelujah Chorus” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4BWhvIlFVE

“You Are Near” by Dan Schutte

“Bless This House” as sung by Perry Como

“On Earth as It Is in Heaven” from The Mission by Ennio Morricone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV0gKStlxnI&feature=related

Reflection: What role has music played on your spiritual journey?

About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
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5 Responses to On Sacred Music

  1. Rose Mathews says:

    Music soothes my soul. Music often soothes my pain especially when Greg died, Our priest, Father Choby (now Bishop Choby) allowed me to select the music for Greg’s funeral mass. That was truly a blessing. We selected uplifting, wonderful hymns. Then there was the music of my youth and college years. Ah, that music was truly therapeutic even though it may not have been “spiritual”! Then followed the music my children listened to as they were growing up – “I’ve got joy, joy, joy down in my heart. . .” (don’t remember any titles, though) and “Heaven is a wonderful place filled with glory and grace. I want to see my Savior’s face. . .”

    And over the years, the music at Christmas Midnight Mass and Easter Sunday. Most recently there is “The Miracle of the Rosary” by Elvis and other music a good friend has shared with me.

    But I must say the music that soothes my soul is the music of my granddaughter, Whittnay. Whittnay doesn’t have much language, signs a lot, and loves music. When she spends the night with me, the first thing she wants in the morning is MUSIC. It doesn’t matter that I’ve only been awake for a few minutes and haven’t had my coffee yet, Whittnay wants to hear the music. She waves her arms in the air to the music, smiles, and may even dance a little bit. Just when I think she’s not listening because she’s so preoccupied with putting together her puzzle, I turn the music off, and Whittnay looks up, points to the CD player, and waves her arms in the air. I must turn the music back on now!

    There is nothing like just sitting back and listening to a good song without any distractions. It’s not just about taking the time to smell the roses but taking the time to listen to the music.

    Thanks again, Rich!

  2. Michele says:

    Music worship brings me to tears each time I try to sing along outloud. The beautiful choir and orchestra at my church makes me feel so humble and privledged to worship God this way. Thank you for sharing the YouTube clips Rich. I watched a YouTube video yesterday with Josh Groban and Charlotte Church singing “The Prayer” and it was beautiful too. Blessings, Michele

  3. A bit of an odd example if I were to closely read the lyrics I guess, but One Day More is a song that speaks to me and gets me to listen and open up a gateway to God that perhaps wasn’t there before I tuned in.

  4. Rich, I was pleasantly surprised–and BLESSED– to get an email today, with a link to this blog. And your topic, as I might expect, came at a perfect time for me. As you, and others have said, I cannot sing a hymn without getting choked up. (Remember??) Yes, I still do. Now, I’ve learned to appreciate and give thanks for the tears, rather than fighting them. As you said, “God and I have an understanding, I won’t go to church and God won’t bug me about it!”

    Over 25 years later, and I frequently say something that reminds me of my year in counseling with you. You blessed my life then, and bless it still, today.

    I’d love for you to follow my blog at http://writingstrongwomen.com — or perhaps you’ve already found it. Just had published my fifth novel–all about strong women. Thank you for helping guide me to be!

  5. Barbara says:

    I like a lot of what you have written, and I just wanted to say hello.

    I too have music for my soul. Amazing Grace has to be pretty top of the list, and Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. I also love ‘The Song of Ruth’ (or ‘Wherever you go’, ‘Whither thou goes’t’ etc…) – Which has been put to music many times, and I haven’t found my favourite…. yet.

    Other songs that got me here today include Hurt as sung by Johnny Cash, The Drugs Don’t Work by The Verve, and Everybody Hurts by REM, but thankfully I no longer have to listen to them at full volume on repeat as I drive aimlessly through the rain!

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