In tune with heaven

By The Very Reverend Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich - 06 November 2015
A picture of choristers singing at Norwich Cathedral
It is very common at the end of a service in the Cathedral to receive comments about the music and almost without exception these will be very positive even to the point of remarking, “This morning I felt I was in heaven!”

There have been occasions though when one person has remarked that the setting sung for the Choral Eucharist was their favourite, while after the same service another person has said, “That music this morning sounded like the soundtrack from a horror movie!”

These comments remind us that as human beings we are very diverse and as Christians worshipping together we must try to be sensitive to each other’s needs and respect our differences.

Whatever our taste in music is, I suspect that for most of us music plays an important part in helping us to worship God. But why?

As human beings we are complex creatures and we interact with each other and with God through a variety of means, but of all the things which relate to our senses, our thoughts and our feelings, I believe that music is probably the most powerful.

A piece of music can instantly bring to mind things which had laid buried deep in our memories for years; it has the ability to lift our spirits, so that we tap our feet or clap our hands; but a piece of music may just as easily move us to tears and release all kinds of emotions.

Music, though, is not just something which touches us as individuals – creating music, or enjoying music, is very much a community activity and that’s why it is so important to the Christian Church. We are the Body of Christ with many parts and many gifts – and what can illustrate this more powerfully than making music together to glorify God?

Music can also play a vital part in the mission of the Church. As we approach Advent and Christmas we have the opportunity to touch the lives of many people in the wider community as they come along to Carol Services and other special events in our churches.

Through our many different styles of worship we can offer something special, life-enhancing and inspirational; lifting people’s spirits so that they get caught up into the glory of God or simply feel that they have been given the space and peace they need in an over-busy and crowded life.

So let us thank God for the wonderful gift of music which has the capacity to raise our spirits so that we feel in tune with heaven; but as that happens let us also make every effort to be in tune with each other between and within our Churches; and more important still, to be in tune with our world.

This blog also featured as an article in the November / December edition of The Magazine. To read more or to order your free copy please visit the Diocese of Norwich website.

3 comments

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  1. Janet Dyer | Nov 19, 2015
    I am travelling to Norwich this Saturday to support the choir of St. Mary's at Maldon who are singing at Evensong.   I listen to this choir every Sunday morning, and there are times in the service when they sing on their own.    I just stand - or sit - and listen to this wonderful sound which fills the old church - it really lifts up the soul.    I am so looking forward to hearing them on Saturday.     You are absolutely right in saying that music can be really evocative and bring forth memories long forgotten, both happy and sad. 
  2. Jennifer Lamont | Nov 15, 2015
    Thanks so much Rev Jane - I agree with you about the complexity of us humans and agree that music is often the key to simplify these complexities.  I sing and have done so all my life - currently in a choir at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney - I visited Norwich Cathedral at easter and hope to return soon to visit again. I was deeply moved by your liturgy during Holy Week and believe that God holds Norwich in a special place in his all encompassing soul
  3. Cynthia Levene | Nov 09, 2015
    I identify entirely with  the Dean's comments and thank her for sharing them with us.

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