There is no question about it. Some of the world’s best music is sacred music. It has the power to move us in ways that we don’t quite understand. It can lift our emotions and take us on a journey that fills us with hope, gladness, longing and sadness all simultaneously. It is no wonder that music, when used to evoke that, which is sacred, is so powerful.
Granted, there is great secular music that can do this for us as well, John Lennon’s Imagine comes to mind. But there is nothing quite like the experience of listening to a great piece of sacred music performed with all the love and delicacy that these pieces require and elicit. And it is perhaps because the performers themselves are so moved by the lyrics and emotions being evoked, that we are too.
One of my favorite experiences in life was to attend Evensong at the York Cathedral. The acoustics of the building combined with the voices of a full choir singing praises to a god was magical. I don’t care that their praise was to god. That they were singing praises to anything was what was moving. We simply don’t do that enough. It was so incredibly beautiful that the thought of that service still brings me to tears just thinking about it.
For me, I don’t care some of my favorite music is sacred in origin. There is clearly something human in wanting to be moved emotionally the way the songs do. So, I say, allow yourself to be transported, to wherever this music takes you. If only for a short time. As Liberace once said, if you have a thing of beauty, it is a shame not to share it. There is enough ugliness in the world that any work of art that celebrates something beautiful and loving is worth cherishing.
And on that note, here is my favorite bit of sacred music: Ave Maria by Schubert, who is probably my favorite composer.