“Unity in Diversity: Music”
Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director and the Music Director
We are the music makers; we are the dreamers of dreams. —Arthur O’Shaughnessy
In the exploration of human diversity, one cannot ignore that which humans employed for communication before speech- music. From dancing to lullabies, music has been a part of every culture since the beginnings of Homo Sapiens. Dancing to the music brings us together; mothers hum and rock their babies to sleep. It is a substance of life, mysteriously born from the stars. Music can energize us, make us cry, bring back memories, or carry us away with the spirit of the holy. Studies have found that even with Alzheimer’s, music remains recognizable until the end of life. They say that love is the universal human language, but perhaps music is the sacred vessel by which it is carried.
When we sing this month’s in-gathering hymn “Where Do We Come From?”, and we feel the pagan-like beat of the music, with our voices interweaving the three parts of the song like a colorful tapestry, we can feel the magic of mystery together. The room is filled with wonder, as we contemplate our beginnings, our purpose, and our endings in community with each other. Religion is the quest for meaning that exists between birth and death. It is a journey we each take and a journey that is enriched when we take it together. Singing together, making music together, can be a beautifully sublime experience like none other. Each of our minds can imagine a whole field of sound, yet our voices (unless we are trained Tibetan monks) can only produce single tones. For some ears, pure tones are too ugly, but the intervals between two, three, or four tones tell dynamic stories of our deepest feelings. Culture shapes the way we hear the tones, intervals, melodies, and rhythms of music. Culture helps to determine whether or not we find it pleasant and what emotions we experience from it.
Our UU hymnals offer us a diverse selection of music for worship, and often we find music outside of the hymnals that carry love and sacredness into our sanctuary. As we experience each song together, we experience a small slice of the world from a particular moment in time and space when someone was filled with the creativity of the holy. Music is the sacred vessel that carries the love we have for each other. It connects us, interweaves us through time and space, and allows for the mystery and wonder of life to penetrate the web of all existence of which we are a part. We hope that you find this sacredness with us on Sunday mornings (and some Wednesday evenings, and Thursday night choir practice, too!). We are all capable of making music and we invite you into our sanctuary to create this universal human phenomenon with us as we dream of the world we want to live in.
In Faith- Heather and Adam