Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Visitation

For those of us preparing both for Sunday morning (Advent 4) and Sunday evening (Christmas Eve), I suggest meditation these next few days on music and art. Depictions of the Visitation are especially helpful, as they help our devotions in the days before the nativity. This piece by He Qi, for example.

Then, what I've been doing is listening to musical renditions of the Magnificat. Bach, and also Kent Gustafson's version in his Mountain Vespers. It's amazing to simply imagine that the church has been praying this prayer each evening, and the Benedictus each morning, for over 2000 years. That almost preaches all by itself.

I wonder why it is that setting a song like this to music often has the effect of vacating it as proclamation? Do we listen to music as if it preached or prayed twice (Augustine)? What is it peculiar to music that sets it in our hearts differently than the word unsung? Or what is it about our culture that has made it so.

May these songs, all these carols and hymns, preach the Word made flesh.

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