Does Music Help the Spiritual Life? 

As we’ve had discussions on books which have helped us know the Faith better, on spiritual reading books, and even blogged to share jokes, and as the Feast of St Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music approaches  (22 November), now might be a good time to reflect on the role – if any – of music in building our spiritual life.

There are people who misinterpret the exhortations of the great mystical saints who teach us to avoid seeking sensible consolation in prayer,  as meaning that any sense of uplift within the soul is a bad thing and to be avoided  This is nonsense.  Singing a devotional hymn should lift our mind and soul to God and so it is with other beautiful music.  I remember hearing a composer once explain her conversion to Christianity by telling a radio interviewer that, while she could explain how she chose the notes that created a beautiful melody, she could not account for, nor take credit for, the impact it had on the listener’s innermost being – the soul.  That set her thinking anew about the whole question of the existence of God and ultimately led her into Christianity. Unfortunately, I had switched on the radio halfway through the interview, and this was some years ago, so I’m unable to provide the name of said composer.  Anyway, it stands to reason that a composer may well have the talent to create a lovely piece of music, but is unable to foresee the impact it will have on individual listeners.  That recognising this fact has led at least one composer to seek Christ, is wonderful. 

So, in honour of St Cecilia, let’s share some of our favourite pieces of music, whether hymns or some moving pieces which may raise our minds and souls to God.  The two videos included in this introduction are among my own favourites … Enjoy!

Reminder – to post a video directly onto the page, simply find it on YouTube and copy the link from your browser.  Bring it back to the blog, and paste it into a comment box, with your own remarks, perhaps explaining why it is one of your favourites. No limits, either, feel free to post as many as you wish!  If you can’t find a video-presentation, just tell us what kind of music helps your prayer and meditation.  Of course, if you disapprove of hymn singing or of seeking any sensible consolation in prayer, let us know, but be aware that the saints were not banning sensible consolation – they were simply warning us against thinking that we are not praying well if we lack such sensible consolation. Over to thee!