Thursday, December 15, 2011

Duke

How's my mental health today?

There are days where it feels a little silly or trite to begin each blog post with that question. This past Sunday my daughter told me she likes the way I begin with this opening question. She said it was like I had my own 'tag'. Given that feedback - I shall continue in this fashion.

I've been trying to slow down; to focus more. I've also been trying to break my cynicism about Christmas. I went back to listening to the Christmas music that I have - omitting everything secular. My reading has also become more strategic. Add in some quiet meditation and with God's help my spirit will be lightened.

For many years music, both playing and listening, was a very spiritual experience for me. Even today, when I read scripture my mind often jumps back to major classical choral works, contemporary choruses, and traditional hymns built on the text I'm reading. The music swirls in my head.

I have an old LP of Duke Ellington's Third Sacred Concert performed in West Minster Abbey on United Nations Day, October 24, 1973. The Concert is titled, The Majesty of God. My favourite number on this album is entitled Everyone Prays in His Own Language. It is mostly an instrumental piece that includes a vocal jazz treatment of the Lord's Prayer. Although everyone else that I've played it for thinks it is weird, I like it! Every time I listen to it, I feel drawn in and lifted up. The sound quality of the recording is poor, but the message is stirring.


This live recording was made exactly 6 months before Duke Ellington's death. I wonder if he sensed his days were coming to a close when he wrote this music.Was it his prayer? Was this concert an act of prayer and worship for Duke Ellington? Did the audience perceive it that way?

Everyone Prays in his own language.

video


Bach gave us God's Word. 
Mozart gave us God's laughter. 
Beethoven gave us God's fire. 
God gave us Music that we might pray without words. 
- quote from outside an old opera house

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