Notes on GodSong

Posted on August 30, 2007. Filed under: godsong |

When people ask me what I mean by GodSong, I often think of Snoopy’s voice in the Charlie Brown TV specials. The dog speaks as a horn playing, and everyone knows what he’s saying. Or do we? I don’t mean God is Snoopy, but think of the many times you’ve listened to a beautiful piece of music. Think of the last song you heard that moved you. Maybe you described it as “haunting,” “sweeping” or even “heavenly.” Whether the song was Bach, a hymn or your favorite rock tune, did you sense God standing closer, somehow involved in the music?
Did the experience make you cry, or laugh or take your breath away? Was there a mystery about it that keeps you coming back for more? Maybe that’s as close to describing GodSong as I will ever get.
For me, the undercurrent of the lower notes–the swell of celli and bass, the smooth expanse of the french horn–often gives me goosebumps. I fill up with an enormous awe and dread, as if I’ve walked into God’s throne room unannounced. Although I love feeling this close to God, I’m also shaking with terror. And when the song is over I find myself wanting to duplicate my brief encounter with the One Who Is.
Gregorian chants, which I love, are only notes paired with Latin phrases, but the sum is greater than the parts. I think the idea may have been to emulate the hosts in heaven, singing “Holy, holy holy,” day and night. Maybe when we chant or sing, a different part of our brains are engaged, the part that puts aside logic and can sympathize with something beyond itself.
My own search always involves an appetite for the unknown, the longing to know more about this Mystery, even if I have to peer behind the curtain. I’m not sure why humans have emotional reactions to music, but in my quite limited view, God is smack dab in the middle of it. Time after time, God rescues me from the brink of doubt, but doesn’t force me to stop asking questions. I want to know why I think God is in the music, why God is the music. Are the mathematical relationships of the musical scale related to the pulsing of distant quasars? Is God an algorithim? I don’t have the physicist’s skills, just a lot of questions. So far, I’ve heard some elegant explanations from theologians such as William Sloane Coffin, from the Psalms, from scientists. All good. Wise. I confess that at first I said God IS a Song, which still makes sense to me but understandably upsets some people. God (for me) is the song, the dance, the watercolor, the poem. For all I know God sounds like Snoopy, although I hope the horn God uses is less aggravating than Snoopy’s “waa-waa-waah.” Wm. Sloane Coffin observed, “God is singing us.” So maybe we are the instruments, God is the player of our souls. Either way, GodSong is all around us, trying to reach us with love, hoping to get us to love back. The imperative to “fear not,” holds true for me as I tremble in the throne room. I hope to see you there.

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