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Music and the Presence of Jesus
19-02-2007, 07:51 PM,
Music and the Presence of Jesus
I would be very interested to know of particular pieces of music that members of the Fellowship associate with the Presence of Jesus in the Divine Liturgy.

I do not wish to shock or offend anyone, or to be disrespectful to Our Lord in any way, but having thought about this carefully, I can honestly say that the music which evokes the Presence of Jesus for me (as an English person) is the following:

Over 50 years ago, the great English Contralto Kathleen Ferrier died. She left a large, wonderful legacy of recordings, but the way she sings traditional British folk music and traditional songs to piano accompaniment really is quite extraordinary. The music that evokes the presence of Jesus for me is Kathleen Ferrier singing the following songs, with simple piano arrangements, and the third one unaccompanied:
Ye banks and braes (trad., arr. Quilter; Burns)
I know where I'm going (Hughes: adapt. Gray)
Blow the wind southerly (Trad., arr. Whittaker) 1949.

I'm not sure I can quite "put my finger on" the reason for this. There is a beauty, purity, simplicity and love evoked when I hear these songs. There is a deep sense of kindness and intimate joy given and shared. There is a friendliness, gentleness, optimism and warmth too.

I realise that others may wish to "shoot me down in flames" for this, but somehow sacred "churchy" music doesn't seem quite right in a funny kind of way. If you listen to the way she sings these songs, you may agree (or disagree). It's the love behind the voice and the gentleness that does it for me somehow. Overblown, fancy music doesn't seem quite right somehow. These songs are very 'homely', and my image or impression of Jesus is a homely one. The British Orthodox Church seems warm and homely in the same sort of way.
19-02-2007, 08:05 PM,
Hi Mark

Thank you for another interesting thread to join in.

I used to have a fairly wide collection of church music, mostly on vinyl so I don't have much of it out of the attic nowadays. I was never greatly touched by the operatic style, though I had some favourite Requiems.

I was helped in my pilgrimage by being given a copy of a tape of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom in English, while I was at an Evangelical Bible College actually. This had some beautiful choral music, but it wasn't overly complicated.

But I probably agree with you that though I find Orthodox church music often moving it is the simple vocal style of folk music which makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Indeed when I was a teenager in the 70's most Christian popular music was folk music.

I appreciate Sandy Denny's voice, and songs like 'Who knows where the time goes' seem to have a Christian dimension even if they were not meant to.

There are lines like..

Quote:And I am not alone while my love is near me
I know it will be so until it's time to go
So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again
I have no fear of time
For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

Funny but just reading the words makes me choke up a bit since they do seem entirely applicable to my relationship with God.

On a side note, I always feel that I should know all of the liturgy by heart after 13 years of being Orthodox because I can remember words to songs like this one, and other songs I have heard for the first time in years over the last few days. I do know much of the liturgy and other prayers but if I were put in prison would I have to make do with Sandy Denny lyrics, much as I am moved by them?

A good thread Mark.


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