The Interfaith Contact Group

The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Sharing the Harmonious Connection of Music… In Words

September 2, 2020
One of the great sorrows caused by the pandemic is our inability to share music in concerts and other musical gatherings. Also, many of us love to sing together, in choirs and places of worship, and it has been a real loss that we can’t do this. So this week’s Words of Connection pays homage to the glory of music, and reminds us how the spirit of music moves us, inspires us, and enriches us.
The first reading comes from John O’Donohue’s book Divine Beauty. It is taken from the chapter entitled Music Creates its Own Time. The second reading comes from the 13th Century poet and scholar Jalaluddin Rumi, and is called Where Music is Everything. The third is an interfaith prayer which has been widely used for funerals and sacred services – the orchestra is a metaphor for life itself. It’s called And Rest. In total contrast to all the other readings, but still celebrating the joy of music is W.B. Yeats delightful Fiddler of Dooney.
Your ideas and contributions are so important, as is your amazing appreciation for Words of Connection. Thank you so much.
Stay well….Very best wishes,
Chair IFCG

From Divine Beauty by John O’Donohue

Music embraces the whole person. It entrances the mind and the heart and its vibrations reach and touch the entire physical body. Yet there is something deeper still in the way that music pervades us. In contrast to every other art form, it finds us out in a more immediate and total way. The inrush of intimacy in music is irresistible. It takes you before you can halt it. It is as though music reaches that subtle threshold within us where the soul dovetails with the eternal. We always seem to forget that the soul has two faces. One face is turned towards our lives; it animates and illuminates every moment of our presence. The other face is always turned towards the divine presence. Here the soul receives the Divine Smile or the Kiss of God, as Meister Eckhart might express it. Perhaps this is where the mystical depths of music issues from: that threshold where the face of the soul becomes imbued with the strange tenderness of divine illumination.


by Jelaluddin Rumi (1207 – 1273)

Don’t worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn’t matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world’s harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can’t see.

Stop the words now.
Open the window in the centre of your chest,
and let the spirit fly in and out.


Stephanie Christopher


There is a moment
In musical rehearsal
When all the players
The choir
The woodwind and brass
The strings and percussion
The entire orchestra
And there is peace


The conductor says two words
‘And rest’
Voices cease to sing
The woodwind put down oboes and clarinets
The brass lay down trumpets and trombones
Others do the same
Because the music is over
There is no audience
There is no applause
In that moment
Quietness reigns
Yet the quiet that follows
Remains harmonious


There is a certain silence
A space
For reflection and repose
The music is remembered
And so we contemplate
The highs
The lows
The passage of melody
Sometimes we feel sad
Because the chords
Have drifted away


Some will feel loss
Others experience relief
And others deep sadness
We share
That moment of closure
When the conductor
‘And rest.’


W.B. Yeats (1865-1939)

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Moharabuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time,
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle
And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With ‘Here is the fiddler of Dooney!’
And dance like a wave of the sea.