November 22, 2010


There is a happy coincidence in the liturgy today: On the feast of St. Cecelia, one of the great patron saints of sacred music, we have arrived in our reading from Revelation at the scene of the saints singing the "new hymn" to God. (14:3)

We who desire to be devout people are regular singers. But sometimes I think we don't always remember to reflect on what a deep thing it is to sing a hymn to God. It's not just added ornamentation or solemnity, but something far more profound. Indeed, to sing a hymn to God is to imitate God himself and conform ourselves to Him.

What happens when we sing a hymn? A blend of truth and beauty emerges from our voice, from our body, mind, and heart. Thus, to sing draws us closer in con-formity to He Who Is Truth and Beauty Itself. In fact, God sings too. When a blended array of truth and beauty emerges from the Heart of God, we call this creation. So to sing a hymn or a text of the Sacred Scriptures is to imitate the creative Delight out of which everything is. That's why to sing automatically makes people joyous, or at least gives some relief from their misery.

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