Like the excellent Charles Pope in this blog post (and thank God for a priest saying to us that he “joined the church choir to meet the pretty girls who sang there”) I always felt a strong connection between music and God. Not in the sense that I though that there must be a God because I hear beautiful music (I am one of those fortunate being who always had, since childhood, a strong interior feeling of the existence of God; something you can’t explain to those who haven’t it more than you could explain how it is to be in love to those who never were) , but because in my eyes music must tell even to the atheists that man con achieve summits by which one can, even as an atheist, seriously doubt that this is purely the work of man.
I still remember the first time I heard, for the first time, Schubert’s Incompiuta.
I wasn’t the youngest anymore (perhaps thirteen or fourteen), and it literally (as in: no air) took my breath away and sent such shivers down my spine like I had never had before. I still can’t hear the start of this wonderful example of truly divine beauty without having a shiver sent down my spine again, every time.
Much as I admire Schubert as one of the very, very greatest, I simply can’t see in this the unaided work of a human mind. No doubt, Heaven came down to give us a glimpse of Its glory and majesty and stunning, aching beauty. And the same impression happens, by the chap in question, rather often to me (for example by listening to this and this, pieces by which you wonder how humanity coped before having them). If you consider that he himself declared that his Ave Maria was composed in a period of “overpowering devotion to the Blessed Virgin”, you get my drift.
Music truly catapults us in another dimension, throws away all our reasoning and rationalising and takes control of us in such a way that, with such an instant immediacy, really should let us think .
The problem with the atheists is that in their fantasy of omnipotence they think that man can do everything. Therefore, they will not recognise God’s work when they are put squarely in front of it.
Beethoven used to say (can’t find the citation anymore) something on the lines that his music (not only sacred music, of course; but also glimpses of Divinity like this one) was able to led people to God more than many priests would. Whilst a composer certainly can’t effect the consecration, I think we get his drift, too.