I can't remember a time in my life when music didn't move me. I love to sing it. I love to hear it. I love to be challenged by it and soothed by it. Music communicates at the soul level. Lyrics and melody and chord structure and rhythm and instrumentation all must be in perfect synchronicity for the musician's message to be fully understood. In some pieces, the connections are obvious: Handel's Hallelujah Chorus is unmistakably a song of rejoicing to all of the western world. Country songs are almost notorious for matching tune to lyric in the simplest way. Even some of the rock music of the 1970s and early 80s match so well that both the lyric and the instrumentation stand alone to communicate a message.
Other times that connection is so subtle that is may be missed in the first several hearings. Poulenc's Gloria at first gives new meaning to "make a joyful NOISE," but after rehearsing it for several weeks, I am learning to see the connections between the unusual rhythms and chord structures to the familiar Latin words. Laudamus Te is so joyful that it may appear irreverant at first. Domine Deus has so many awkward transitions, key changes, and chromaticisms that it is uncomfortable to sing. Yet, considering the meaning of the words (You who bears the sin of mankind, be merciful to us. Hear our prayer), the composition makes perfect sense. Sin is supposed to be uncomfortable. The Savior was born to die for our sins. Somehow a lyrical melody just isn't right for that message. This movement mimics the tears and brokenness of the truly repentant before resolving in the next movement: Qui Sedes Ad Dexteram Patris (Jesus enthroned at the right hand of God.) Worship meets mercy. Amen.
One of my favorite sayings is this:
"Bach gave us God's Word.
Mozart gave us God's laughter.
Beethoven gave us God's fire.
God gave us music that we might pray without words."
Today, and every day, I am grateful for music.