Saturday, 20 December 2008

Handel's Messiah

I have not been a believing or practising Christian for 30 years, but that doesn't stop me from loving Handel's Messiah. Seeing a performance every year at Christmas has been one of my long-standing holiday traditions. Tonight my Rare One and I are off to the concert hall again to see this year's rendition. I'm looking forward to it very much.

I still often find great beauty, spiritual meaning and emotional poignancy in selected Christian stories, music and art. Although I am no longer a literal believer, Christianity will always remain my cultural heritage. It is inextricably tied up with my childhood memories and personal spiritual development. When the right note is struck, it can still have profound spiritual resonance for me. Sam Keen, in his book Hymns to an Unknown God, really captured this lingering connection of the heart when he wrote:

The truth of the spirit . . . is better conveyed in song and poetry than by propositions. The best of the Christian tradition, which continues to nourish me, is expressed in the music it inspired. Often, my mind is uncomforted by any set of beliefs that can stand the test of doubt, but when I listen to Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze," my soul lies down beside still waters and a mysterious Lord is still my shepherd.

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