Harmony, the Music of the Spheres and Glimpses of Eternity

Holy Trinity Church, Hatton, Warwickshire (creative commons)
Holy Trinity Church, Hatton, Warwickshire (creative commons)

The other day I was at an inspirational concert in a village church in Warwickshire, Hatton Church, listening to a small choir called Amici sing a mixture of early music and contemporary music.

They sang a capella music by such composers as William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons and Ralph Vaughan Williams. On one occasion the conductor pointed out that five hundred years separated the composers of the two pieces they were about to sing.

The loveliest pieces I heard were Alleluia, I heard a voice by Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623); A Spotless Rose by Paul Mealor (b. 1975); Hail Gladdening Light by Charles Wood (1866-1926), Northern Lights by Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978) and Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre (b. 1970).

As I listened to the glorious harmonies that the singers created I found myself gazing up to the stained glass windows high above the altar. Listening to music like this is like a portal into another world, a higher spiritual dimension, opened up by the singers who produce those exquisite sounds.

Then I thought, this must be what the Music of the Spheres is like. Many authors have explored the idea of the music of the spheres, “a universe bursting with music”. And this concert by Amici brought it to my mind again.

We all have the capacity to create heaven on earth with our voices, creating harmonies that are sublime. I experience this occasionally with the Leamington Spa community choir Songlines.

Never forget that the greatest of instruments is the human voice.

 

Standing Ovations and Encores for Songlines Community Choir in Leamington Spa

On Saturday night 7 December 2013 our local community choir, Songlines, conducted by Bruce Knight, gave  a concert at St Mary’s  Church, in Leamington Spa, to raise money for Water Aid.

Bruce Knight conducting Songlines Community Choir in a performance of Nkosi Sikelelik 'lAfrika in St Mary's Church Leamington Spa on Saturday  7 December 2013
Bruce Knight conducting Songlines Community Choir in a performance of Nkosi Sikelelik ‘lAfrika in St Mary’s Church Leamington Spa on Saturday 7 December 2013

It was a night where we saw and felt the power of music to bring joy and to uplift.

A standing ovation and calls for an encore confirmed this.

Our programme encompassed community choir arrangements of the moving Zulu song Egalile, full of exhuberant synchronized movements, including our well-rehearsed African shuffle; Let the River Run by Carly Simon, Sunday Morning by Reed & Cale, arr.Knight; the Beatles’ song Nowhere Man; Wake Up by Nick Prater arr. Ali Orbaum, and the Samoan song Fa’afetai i le Atua arr. Tony Backhouse.

A smaller group called Extra-stronglines also sang the gorgeous harmonies of the Beatles’ song Because.

A highlight was a performance of the South African National anthem Nkosi Sikeleli’l Afrika in tribute to the recent passing of Nelson Mandela.

And at the end, we walked off the stage, singing Love is like a river, let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.

 

Long may we celebrate the gift of music in our lives.