by Michael Duryea
But the gods, taking pity on mankind, born to work, laid down the succession of recurring Feasts to restore them from their fatigue, and gave them the Muses, and Apollo their leader, and Dionysus, as companions in their Feasts, so that nourishing themselves in festive companionship with the gods, they should again stand upright and erect. -Plato
For much of the history of Christendom, singing psalms was a rich, interwoven part of the fabric of Christian living and worship. The psalms were not read so much as they were sung. In the past, many in religious vocations even knew the psalms by heart and would sing through the entire psalter every week. Many of the medievals accomplished this in the praying of the Divine Office: engaging in up to seven services every day as the primary manifestation of their formal prayer life. Hildegard of Bingen, the great 12th century mystic and Doctor of the Church, went so far as to say that singing makes the indwelling of the Logos possible. Her thoughts coincide very well with the apostle’s admonition in the third chapter of his letter to the Colossians: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The Word, the Divine Logos, Jesus the Christ, dwells in us richly through song. Music adorns the truth in an aural garment and, at its best, can be a medium by which we can learn to love truth. Through music, God brings the truth alive, makes it rich, and endears this knowledge to us, making it precious to our hearts. Continue reading
Christopher Dekker, D.M.A. candidate in Organ Performance, performs Gerald Near’s “Carillon on a Ukrainian Carol” at the Cathedral of St Andrew in Grand Rapids, Michigan.