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Sunday surprise — Orthodox choral music, and Lutheran

[ by Charles Cameron — for Kristen and J Scott Shipman, Tim Furnish, Mark Osiecki, and whomever it may delight]

Note the words:

Music has certain remarkable qualities, which even the spoken word does not possess. Music does something that words can’t. It goes to the deepest point of who we are, the center of our person, it is a quintessential part of what it means to worship God, to be able to sing to God, to be able to pour our hearts in thanksgiving, praise, Orthodox worship cannot take place without singing.

You know, I have very few things to offer back to the world in thanks for the many, many things the world has offered me, but this remark reminds me of another from John Eliot Gardiner, spoken after Sara Mingardo‘s recitative in his rehearsal DVD for Bach‘s cantata Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63. Gardiner quotes Bach:

Nota bene: Bei einer andächtigen Musik ist allezeit Gott mit seiner Gnaden Gegenwart. Now I find that very, very significant. That he’s saying wherever there is devotional music, God with his grace is present. Which, from a strict theological point of view is probably heresy, heretical, because it’s saying that music has an equivalent potency to the word of God. And I think that in essence is why Bach is so attractive to us today because he is saying that the very act of music-making and of coming together is, in a sense, an act which invokes the latency, the potency, the potentiality of God’s grace, however you like to define God’s grace; but of a benediction that comes even in a dreadful, overheated studio like Abbey Road where far too many microphones and there’s much too much stuff here in the studio itself, that if one, as a musician, puts oneself in the right frame of mind, then God’s grace can actually come and direct and influence the way we perform his music.


And so, once again, here is Sara Mingardo, incomparable:

One Response to “Sunday surprise — Orthodox choral music, and Lutheran”

  1. J.ScottShipman Says:

    Dear Charles,
    On behalf of Kristen and I, thanks for the mention and thanks for sharing. We’ve grown to love both Russian and Byzantine music, though the Russian is more familiar. By a strange quirk or Divine Providence, and friend dying of cancer in 2008 introduced me to Russian choral music, with Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil being among my favorites. According to my iTunes account, this album has played over 1200 times! Of course, the recording is in Russian (which I don’t understand), but eight years before we took the leap into Orthodoxy.
    Thus far, the journey has been wonderful!

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