No human culture now or at any time in recorded history lacked music. Some of our oldest artefacts are musical instruments. Whenever we come together music is there – weddings, funerals, graduations, sports events, nights out, family gatherings, romantic evenings and prayer. What function does music serve?
The spiritual nature of music cannot be defined by religion, culture or genre – music is beyond definition. It is the sound of the spirit when created from the heart and with truth and pure intention. For most of human history, music making was as natural as breathing and everyone participated in it. Music is associated with some of the strongest passions we experience. Vedic Mantras, Gregorian Chant, Devotional Bhajans, the Great Symphonies, traditional Gospel Hymns have helped us express our religious faith from the beginning of time. Music lifts the soul and inspires the heart. Music is a spiritual expression of the most universal nature and the highest order. “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life”, Beethoven. Music turns the most mundane and challenging moments of life into deeply resonating human and divine experiences. “There is nothing so much like prayer as music is”, Merrill. “Music is the easiest method of meditation. Whoever can let himself dissolve into music has no need to seek anything else”, Osho.
Music is one of our most powerful gateways to the spiritual. It connects us to our spiritual nature – our divine source. Music awakens higher aspirations and sets us on an inner journey. Music is the limitless calling of the soul. It communicates religious images, inspirational thoughts. It transcends race, colour, religion and culture. Music and spirituality are intricately related with spirituality often being the inspiration for the creation of music. There is no better way to get close to God. Music transports us on all levels beyond the limits of intellect and physical body to a higher blissful and inexplicable state. It curbs our fears and strengthens our beliefs.
There is something profound, unfathomable, mesmerizing, mysterious and simply amazing about music. Music changes us, lifts our spirits and calms us. To be musical is to be spiritual. The lyrics of spiritual music stir the heart opening us to God. Spiritual practices are infused with music to express worship and liturgy. Music penetrates the depths of our souls.
Many verses in the Old Testament speak of music, singing and playing stringed instruments. Music is used to inspire and energise and to heal. We are familiar with the Old Testament Hymns – the Psalms. The melodies and lyrics of chants and hymns and gospel songs speak to our hearts and inspire faith. The lyrical content of spiritual music articulates a desire for both spiritual salvation and personal freedom. Spiritual practices are infused with music to intensify the spiritual components of ritual, worship and meditation. “He who sings, prays twice”, St Augustine. Music helps us to express spiritual joy. It brings our minds, bodies and spirits into harmony before God. Music is celebration and spiritual expression. It is beauty in existence. It is the background to our lives.
Music is a gift we offer back to God. With our voices singing, our ears listening, we express praise and thanks to God. Part of the spiritual power of music lies in its beauty. It draws us to one another, to the universe and to God. It gives expression to divine beauty. It stirs something very deep in us. Music invites us to consider truths About God and about ourselves, gently. It comforts our souls. Music is universal. It is worshipped and revered. Music forms itself around human emotion in a personally spiritual way. Music is a spiritual experience. There is something other worldly about it. It puts us in touch with the divine search. Through immersion in music, performers, listeners and composers nurture their spirituality and gain new faith, new hope and new love. It lifts us to joy and feeds our longing for God. Music creates space for personal prayer. Music of all genres has the power to make us sing, laugh, cry, dance, smile, love and grieve.
Music touches our inner depths. We are inspired by and enriched by music. Music opens people to their personal spirituality in a profound way. It facilitates a meditative state. Music calls us beyond ourselves to search for God. We are in tune with something beyond ourselves. Through its vast resources of holy texts, psalms, hymns and chants, and sacred music Liturgy transports us to God. All music is sacred and leads us beyond ourselves. Life is sacred. Music is sacred. Through it we get a glimpse into the invisible, untouchable secrets of why we are here and what it means to be self-aware. We are all moved by, inspired by and enriched by music.
Sr. Ann Crowley – Kilkee