Okay, I’m on a mission. The missus is in the kitchen cooking the tea, and I’ve set myself the challenge of writing a blog post by the time it’s ready.
Sometimes you have to break a habit by going completely 180 on it, I reckon, and I waste a load of opportinuties for sharing my thoughts because I don’t strike while the iron’s hot, and then I spend another two weeks editing the damned thing once I start. As Mum used to say, this isn’t a rehearsal, you only get this one life.
Of course, in a sense, that’s what this blog is about, that, very likely, we only get this one life. It’s unlikely in the extreme that it’s a rehearsal or a veil of tears, or one in a vast or infinite series, however much we might love life and want it to happen again in some form, or go on forever, or until we’re bored, or whatever is our greatest fantasy.
Joy is singing along to Bach, and I’m enjoying the sound of baroque genius floating in from the kitchen (eh-hem, Bach’s). Bach has given me moments of the deepest pleasure, and of a strange kind of sensation, almost a pain that is simultaneously sweet, enchanting, excruciating, sending shivers down the spine and bringing tears to the eyes. Bach suffered greatly in his life, and his music is full of an almost tangible sense of unquenchable forebearance and faith. This, of course, also gives me reason to wonder, how to think about my intense emotional response to religious music.
Bach’s music, of course, is intensely religious – so much so that he’s often called the Fifth Evangelist (after Mathew, Mark, Luke and John) – and I am an atheist.
I must write at greater length about this another time – this challenge is proving harder than I thought when I drank my pre-dinner wine (the aroma of cheese sauce tells me) – but for now I’ll just say that you don’t have to be religious to enjoy religious music, because it is largely the emotion inherent in our human reaction to music that is elicited, not any particular meaning: the Bach I love, ignoring musical style and any German or Latin I might know, could equally well be about Greek tragedies or Norse Sagas.
A strange thing has happened in how I think about my own response. Bach expresses a yearning: for God, for deliverance, and not just for himself, but for all, those who do not know of Jesus’ Resurrection. Strangely, I have begun to feel a similar yearning listening to beautiful music, but in almost the opposite direction, for enlightement, and not just for myself, but those lost in myths and superstitions of one kind or another.
And, as another favourite of mine, the band Genesis, said, ‘supper’s ready’. Hopefully not my last.
P.S. (Nearly succeeded!)…It’s hard to listen to this, especially reading a translation, and not feel a tiny inclination to convert. 🙂