Well, not me, actually. I am quite happy and enjoying a rare day off.
I’m even not unhappy about Damian Thompson’s silly spoof on his Telegraph blog about bishops and nuns – although I did respond to one enquirer (as to whether I would respond) with : “I’m too busy climbing every mountain…”. Mind you, I also added my own question: “What does Damian Thompson want to do when he grows up?” I thought his spoof quite amusing (despite the fact that I don’t think I have seen Sister Act), but was rather shocked to see how many people clearly think what he said was true. What price credulity? Soon the story will be reported across the world as if it were true.
Anyway, back to the real business. I don’t get to hear much preaching, so it matters to me that what I do get to hear is good and gets my mind working as well as my spirit inspired or challenged. Last night I was hugely encouraged. I attended the tenth anniversary Choral Evensong of the Southwark Cathedral Girls Choir. Apart from the glorious music and wonderful congregation, the sermon was superb. It won’t be quite the same written down, but it was rivetting, funny, moving, inspiring and challenging.
Canon Lucy Winkett, soon to move from St Paul’s Cathedral, preached – the first time I have heard her. Perhaps the more important fact is that the young people there appeared to give full attention to her, too. It was a model of communication and excellent preaching. The Morrisey lyric (the title of this post) was one that summed up Lucy’s feelings on her cycling pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela:
Music is itself a language of the human spirit and as such teaches us about God.
Music expresses the “otherness” of God. It is somehow over us, beyond our analysis or understanding, calling us out of where and who we are.
Music is also immanent; that is expressing truths about this world as well as the next. The creation of music almost always involves a patron, an agreement; The heavenly language of music is that of gift and grace, but it is created in the worldly context of contract and exchange. Sacred music sung in a sacred space – invites us to claim liturgy as a de-tox against the sickness of consumerism, a unique activity of the believing community that cultivates wisdom, rehearses justice and gives us a foretaste of heaven.
This brought to my mind the Leonard Cohen poem I blogged on some time ago, Thing. Human beings are made to sing, made for music. No wonder the Psalms are full of songs about the whole of human experience: lament, complaint, questioning, love, praise, wonder, etc.
Lucy’s sermon deserves a wide read. But it is half-naked without the person and the voice and the silence and the moment.