beauty and truth – music for the soul

Duke Gardens
Duke Gardens

I believe that we are all enthralled by beauty. Some are drawn to the natural splendor of the world around us; some own a more cultivated appreciation for music, architecture, and the fine arts; some are touched by words, mathematics, ideas, and theoretical constructs.

Beauty addresses a fundamental need; those who grow up surrounded by desolation, or in an environment where “what is lovely” is repressed – either by accident or design – don’t just miss an optional extra in life, they are cut off from something essential to the health of the human soul.

Beauty lifts us up precisely because it speaks from beyond the mundane.

Twentieth-Century writer C.S. Lewis made the argument that beauty is a glimpse into the truth of God. The beauty we experience here on earth is just a hint – a scratching of the surface – of deeper, more profound, more startlingly brilliant realities beyond.

Duke Chapel
Duke Chapel

They are evidences of beauty so overwhelming that we could not survive the exposure – like looking directly into the sun, or the way Moses was instructed to turn his back when God passed by. Yet even that momentary exposure left Moses shining with such luminosity that he had to cover his face with a veil when he returned to his people.

The light of God; the weight of the glory; the music of heaven; the appearance of heavenly beings… all this would literally destroy us, given the limitations of what it means to be human.

ART: I think Lewis was on to something. I know I am lifted, enriched, inspired, and sometimes overwhelmed by beauty. In fact, I believe there is a direct connection between the way I am moved by beauty and my spiritual life.

That has certainly been the case over the past couple of days. First, Sunday morning, both the Praise Band and the Chancel Choir at WFPC spoke directly into my soul with anthems that came as much from their hearts as their mouths. Then, Sunday afternoon and Monday evening, Rebekah and I were privileged to attend concerts featuring musicians who performed with enough of the heavenly quality C.S. Lewis wrote about to be on the edge of dangerous.

Raleigh Ringers
Raleigh Ringers

BELLS: If you haven’t attended a concert of the Raleigh Ringers, then you likely don’t understand exactly how amazing hand bells can be.

Eighteen musicians, seven and a half octaves, complex scores, masterful execution, aerobic ringing, and a repertoire that extends from Bach to The Eagles (yes, they played “Hotel California”). The concert was breathtaking.

It was our first time visiting Raleigh’s downtown concert hall complex, and we were impressed with the facility. Seriously, friends, you have to check out the Raleigh Ringers.

Combined choirs at Duke Chapel
Combined choirs at Duke Chapel

DUKE CHAPEL: Monday we joined some WFPC friends for a trip to Durham to hear the choir from the church of St. Martin in the Fields (London).

We arrived in time for a stroll through the gardens, then joined over 1,000 other people in Duke Chapel. The music was, in a word, heavenly. The program included three spectacular pieces where the choir was swelled by members of the Durham Vocal Arts Ensemble.

Sam Wells, vicar at St. Martin in the Fields, offered commentary on the program. His deeply thoughtful words helped remind the audience that these great choral pieces have emerged from and reflect on transformational spiritual truths that are not only timeless, but timely.

IMG_3786BEAUTY: For me, and for Rebekah, it was two days of soul-nurturing music that met us exactly where we were, and that applied the balm of beauty to our spirits, prying open that window into heaven just a little wider, offering more than a glimpse into the creative heart of God.

Peace – DEREK

(more images…)




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