Inside the mind of a writer www.scskillman.co.uk

The most profound emotions, the deepest experiences of the human spirit may be evoked by the sound of a heavenly choir.

Choir of Angels (credit: crossfiremc.com)

Choir of Angels (credit: crossfiremc.com)

There has often been debate about which is the greatest musical instrument. And of course each of us will have different favourites. It has been said, for instance, that the grand pipe organ is “the King of Instruments”.

But I believe the greatest musical instrument is the human voice.

The other day I listened to a heavenly choir – the Armonico Consort – sing some of the most sublime choral music ever composed in St Mark’s Church, New Milverton, Leamington Spa.

As I listened to Barber’s Agnus Dei, and Allegri’s Miserere Mei float through the church, I heard with new ears, and saw with new eyes.  I’ve been going to this church for 14 years and had not previously realised quite how beautiful it is. The power of the music had opened up not only the sense of hearing.

Why do we respond so instinctively to the sound of those voices?  Because, I suggest, they give us a glimpse of eternity.

Whenever a film director wishes to evoke in the audience pity, grief and sorrow, or joy, bliss, peace and gladness, the best choice of background music is that provided by a heavenly choir.

In the first part of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, we find this used to good effect on several occasions.

When the Fellowship of the Ring meet Haldir of Lorien, we hear the first long sustained notes of those ethereal voices. The Lady of the Wood is waiting. The Lady Galadriel appears, and the voices of the heavenly choir crescendo.

In Lothlorien, again the massed voices are heard in the background, an aural tapestry evoking mystical power, visions, prophecy, wisdom, insight.

And at the end of the film, they are heard once more, immediately after Frodo has turned to his faithful companion and said, “Sam, I’m glad you’re with me.”

Here, the heavenly choir evokes values like love, loyalty, courage, determination, self-sacrifice.

In the bible we find these words: “God has written eternity on our hearts”.

I can affirm this by personal experience, again and again throughout my life.

Please share your thoughts on this. Have you too experienced the sublime through music? And do you too have a strong sense that God has written eternity on your heart?

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Comments on: "The Heavenly Choir, Voices of Lothlorien, and Glimpses of Eternity" (6)

  1. […] course few experiences of body, mind and spirit can equal that of singing with a large choral society in Bach’s B Minor Mass –  and, indeed, […]

  2. Alison Hird said:

    I have a glimps of eternity whenever I hear the glorious ending to Mahler’s 2nd symphony – It says to me that after all the struggles and battles of life, all will be well in the end – just like a dark cloud rolling away revealing a bright eternal light.

    • Thank you for your comment, Alison. What a a wonderful gift it is, to be so sensitive and open to great music, that God can speak to you through it.This is the same message that Julian of Norwich gives, in her famous quote from “Revelations of Divine Love”: ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.’

  3. Not quite a heavenly choir, but our church music group have me floating round the ceiling etc at times – other times, Russell plays one note on the piano and I’m up there with the angels. Our pastor describes music as the language of heaven.
    Totally agree about the use of the heavenly choir in film sound tracks.
    And eternity – NOW is the moment when time meets eternity. Possibly also why we are so affected by birth and death – even those who don’t normally ponder the eternal.
    Sorry this comment is a bit jumbled – could do with being worked up into a blog post.

    • Thank you for your comment. “The language of heaven” – that perfectly describes it. Of course, many of us have different tastes in music, and individuals respond in so many varied ways. My father always sang in choirs and so did I, from the age of 9. He loved Bach and Mozart and Beethoven, and communicated that love to me. I remember he told me once what a choir director said of music by Mozart: “He didn’t compose this music. He plucked it from a tree!” I feel this expresses how true genius, like Mozart’s for example, produces work that seems to remove any concept of human effort or struggle; it appears to us as a direct gift from God.
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