Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Magic of Song

I read the words of the hymn to myself, while the deacons passed the collection baskets. I'm one of those people on whom most poetry makes no impression. And this was a typical case. Then the music began and we began singing the hymn. Suddenly, I couldn't see the words. Everything had become blurry because of the tears welling up in my eyes. What had been a meaningless list of words now became a living sound that pierced my heart. I wiped away the tears as the hymn ended.

 As I sat down, I noticed an elderly woman in the pew in front of me. She was wiping away her own tears. I wondered if it was for the same reason. Had the hymn affected her the way it did me? Did we share a common, unspoken bond?  I was a visitor to the church, didn't know her and was too timid to approach her after the service. And even if we shared that bond, perhaps it was best left unspoken. Talking about it would somehow spoil the magic.

 In one of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, The Magician's Nephew, there's a scene where Aslan creates the world of Narnia. He does so by singing. As he sings, things begin to appear, come alive, and grow. Lewis was a professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and I suspect he borrowed many of his ideas from authors I've never even heard of. But I wonder if this idea might go back to Genesis. We are told that God spoke and the Spirit of God brooded over the deep. Was the Spirit the Music, waiting for the Word of God to give meaning and direction to creation? Was God really singing creation into existence?

 I've written before about how I think the cell might be understood as the image of God: The DNA would be the Father (the Creator); the RNA would be the Son, the word or expression of the DNA; and the Protein would be the Spirit, waiting for the RNA to give the right expression, so that it could be ordered in the right way and do its work. Are there a trillion songs going on in my body right now? In everyone's body? I can't wait until I get to hear the music someday. And when we sing, it will be with tears of joy.

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