Since my earliest memories, I have known and loved music. My father used to play Beatles songs on the guitar in the back yard on warm summer evenings. My mother was at rehearsal night the Monday night before I was born, and she swears I kicked in tempo. I learned to read helping my father learn lines for the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta his community chorus was to perform. Music has been such an integral part of my life that I do not know what I would do without it.
Music is cathartic: it unlocks our deepest emotions and engages all my senses. To me, music smells like old paper, pencil shavings, and the perfume of the woman who sat down the row from me. Music tastes like Throat Coat tea (black licorice–not my thing, but great for a sore throat!). Music is the feel of the piano keys, the cool touch of my flute. Music looks like a color guard routine, flags whipping through the air, rifles spinning precariously. Most importantly, music sounds like magic. The great Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts and an idol to my generation, once said “Ah, music… A magic far beyond all we do here!” (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 2001).
He was, of course referring to literal magic: levitation, divination, potions, charms, but I think the quote has greater applications. Music is weaves a spell over its listeners, keeping someone in the car until the radio switches to commercial, bringing up memories of a middle school Sadie Hawkins dance.
I bring this up because twice in the last month, music has left me in tears. The first time, I was at Clergy Conference, and the setting of the psalm was poignant for me. The verses were read over growing piano chords, and the congregation sang an antiphon together. At the end, our reader said “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.” Under these words, the music grew to a crescendo, culminating in a full, joyous Amen! from the congregation, and the moment washed over me, through me, breathing new life into my tired body.
The second was at the 11AM service on November 3rd. All Saints Day is always a hard day for me as I remember my father, the man who brought me into the church and instilled in me such a passion for it. Top that with a song that says everyone is a saint of God, and I’m gonna get weepy. I know Hymn 293 (I Sing a Song of the Saints of God) can be somewhat corny, but I just love it. Every time I hear it, I feel the Holy Spirit moving in my life, lifting me up in times of doubt and standing firm with me in times of triumph. It’s a feel good song, and I felt washed clean of my negativity and my uncertainty.
Music is a magic greater than any other I have known. It is my thin place, my Holy Spirit moment. Music is the way I experience God’s love.