Music is everywhere.
The creation itself pulses with pizzazz and praise; the universe dances to the jazz of joy.
We can hear the music in the trumpeting cry of an elephant, the playful greeting of a dolphin, and the upward call of a soaring hawk.
It’s in the contented sighs of a baby feeding at her mother’s breast and the rhythmic breathing of a child sleeping in his father’s arms; in the playful barking of a puppy and the young child’s squeals of delight as the puppy runs circles round her feet; in a weary man’s soft murmurs of contentment as he rests in love’s shelter; in the grateful tears of a woman who has welcomed her husband home after a tour of duty in harm’s way; in the irrepressible waves of laughter of friends who tell stories around the table until late in the night.
“The hills are alive with the sound of music.”
“All nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.”
Poet Edward Hirsch imagines that even his cat, Jeoffry, purrs and hums his in praise of the Creator. Hirsch wrote:
And, only then did I understand
It is Jeoffry—and every creature like him—
Who can teach us how to praise—purring
In their own language,
Wreathing themselves in the living fire(Wild Gratitude, p. 18).
When we make music, or join by grateful listening or heartfelt singing the music others have made, we join the rhythms, melodies, and harmonies of creation itself. Many of us hope that the music we enjoy—whether we think of it as “sacred” or “secular” (divisions which are more false than true if we take the incarnation seriously)—will also be an expression of our joy in the Creator.
In 1965, Duke Ellington gave a concert at the then-new Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco. Ellington delighted in the opportunity: “Now I can say loudly and openly what I have been saying to myself on my knees.” And what had he been saying? And what did he now say openly? Here are titles of some of Ellington’s pieces:
“Is God a Three-Letter Word for Love?”
“Every Man Prays in His Own Language”
“Ain’t Nobody Nowhere Nothin’ Without God”
and “Praise God and Dance.”
He exulted: “Praise the One who created and sustained and redeemed all of this.”