I was listening to National Public Radio on the way home from work the other day, when I heard this beautiful, haunting singing. After the bus passed me, I realized it was in Latin and I paid more attention to the story about the nuns of Ann Arbor, Mich. recording choral music.
I enjoy sacred music, especially some of the work done by nuns and monks I’ve heard over the years. It got me thinking though, about how I define “holy” when it comes to music.
For me, the holy and sacred music my spirit yearns for instills a sense of peace, and communion with the Divine. Probably in part because I’m an introvert and quiet time is what I need to recharge my batteries.
I’ve listened to my share of ecstatic music, and thoroughly enjoy that too but while it pumps up my adrenaline levels it doesn’t fill me with peace. It does make great music to listen to right before doing any heavy lifting, though, because it strengthens my spirit and makes the work easier on my body.
I began running through all of the pagan music I could think of on the drive home, looking in my mental catalog for something that was overtly pagan and still filled me with that sense of peace and harmony. I found lots of songs that make me happy in my mental pagan collection, but nothing that touched me with the same peaceful vibe I was getting from the Catholic singers. Lots of chants from various Reclaiming CDs are associated with happy memories of our community Chant Jam sessions, and some are useful for focusing energy and intent during ritual, but nothing left me with serenity.
Is it something we’re missing in our community collective repertoire? Are we missing out on peace within our own community music? Many of us are free-wheeling independent thinkers, captains of our own destiny, etc. etc. but does that exclude us from peace and serenity? Can’t that also be part of our path, and our music?
I'm quoting one of the sisters from the article here in closing, and I've shared the link to the story for your reading/listening pleasure as well.
"We bring people back where the culture, sad to say, is selling them short," Sister Joseph Andrew says. "The culture is not saying you need silence; you need to calm down; you need to meet God in however you might choose to worship him. And I think when you turn this music on, something interiorly starts to calm down. And there starts to be a freedom to be able to really listen to God within."
Peace and Harmony to you all,