Music and prayer

As with just about anything else, my draw to food, movies and music goes through the usual fractal cycles (longer cycles over years, seasons, months and weeks, with short cycles overlaid going over weeks, days and hours).

So my music listening goes from 60s lounge to baroque (Bach, Marin Marais) to world (Mari Boine, Carlos Nakai, Hun Huur Tu, Yossou N’Dour), to renaissance (Palestrina, Victoria) to pop (Sting, Kate Bush, Stereolab) to religious (Rachmaninov’s Vesper, Sister Marie Keyrouz, Russian Orthodox) to folk music (Agnes Buen Garnås) to contemporary (Jan Garbarek, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Arvo Pärt) to romatic (Shubert) to other genres.

Music as prayer

This weekend, I got into an Arvo Pärt phase, and am reminded of music as prayer.

His compositions, such as Passio, Arbos, Tablua Rasa, Te Deum and others, are prayer in the form of music, and they resonate with and awaken prayer in the (receptive) listener. Wherever our center of gravity is, the music closely mirrors, reflects and awakens our relation with Spirit as a Thou.

For me, listening to Pärt brings me right into the deep, full, rich and all-pervading sense of mystery, awe, unspeakable beauty, longing, pain, passion, joy, bliss, and disappearing of any separate I as any heart-centered and deeply felt prayer do, such as the heart prayer and Christ meditation.

While our center of gravity is still in a segment of the totality, prayer in any form – including music, can help us shift out of it and taste selflessness.

And after the awakening to selflessness, prayer and music can awaken the same sense of awe, beauty, longing, pain, joy and bliss, and work in and throughout our human self, allowing it to mature, deepen, become even more of a vehicle for Spirit-awake-to-itself in the world of phenomena.

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