It is 11:58 on Saturday night and I am doing what has become one of my favorite things in the world: sitting in my living room while everyone else is asleep, watching the same three-minute clip on my television over and over again as I do some work.
The clip is from back in April, a recording of the of the National Basilica Choir singing Dum transisset Sabbatum for Pope Benedict’s Vespers service with the U.S. Bishops. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. And while I did purchase a copy of the song for my iPod, there’s something about seeing it performed that moves my soul on an even deeper level than hearing it alone.
When I hear the song pour through speakers and waft through the house, the harmonious voices floating through the air as if coming from angels, I feel thankful to God. But when I see it performed, when I can observe the different hair styles and physical features and facial expressions of the men and women performing it, I feel thankful to God, and I also feel incredibly thankful to my brothers and sisters in Christ who have come together to perform it.
I am not gifted musically. If I were to try to sing, someone would probably call 911 for fear that I’d sustained serious injury. So I am at the mercy of my fellow human beings when it comes to hearing beautiful music: if they do not give it to me, I will not have it. It’s a gift that God has given a select few, that the rest of us couldn’t purchase with any amount of money or effort.
It is interesting to consider the fruits of this system that God created when he gave each of us different talents: no one person can create all forms of beauty; if the human family is to experience the full range of beauty that is available to us, if our souls are to have the opportunity to listen to all the languages that God speaks through different forms of art, it will only be through the generosity of our fellow human beings. As with so many other ways that God moves in the world, the more we turn to and cooperate with one another, the more we will experience Him.
Of all the emotions I feel as I sit here in my living room late on a Saturday night, watching the familiar shot of the EWTN camera panning across the haunting Crypt Church and settling in on the group of blue-robed men and women, I mostly feel grateful. Grateful to God, and grateful to the people in this choir — and in choirs everywhere — who are generous enough to share the precious gift of song with the rest of us.
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