28th June 2023

These past few weeks I have felt as if I have been living through my own personal music festival. I have been to concerts featuring music in a whole range of styles, written at all sorts of times in all sorts of places in the past four hundred years and played in many different venues. (Including churches, former churches and former railway goods sheds!) This is not to mention being able to use the BBC to “visit” so much of the music from Glastonbury without once having to apply suncream or queue for a loo.

Then on Tuesday morning the Revd Lucy Winkett helped me to make sense of the elation I have felt. (Radio 4 Thought for the Day, 27 June 2023)

The power of music at its best is incomparable in expressing the complexity and vulnerability of the human condition. Saint Augustine knew this when he reflected that the person who sings prays twice because music is itself a language of the human spirit. The power of memory expressed in harmony, melody, rhythm and community is also an expression of the soul.

Sometimes when we can’t say a thing, we can sing it. Sometimes, perhaps grieving at a funeral, it’s the singing that gives us permission to cry.

And sometimes it’s the sounding of the brass that gives us permission to smile and laugh.

Music can connect us to each other and to something more. It doesn’t have to have religious themes to be a connection with God, a sort of prayer.

Nick Parsons