Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Cosmology of J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion

I was tossing about this afternoon for a topic here and I was, for some reason, reminded about the music that was played at our Parish on Christmas Eve. Most Sundays, I sit in the "crying room" with the kids, where the music comes through a tinny speaker. For Christmas Eve, however, we were in the main Church. Moreover, the normal choir and organ combo was augmented by several musical instruments, including a flute, an electric guitar and an electric bass. The effect was quite dramatic. I was struck once again by how powerful music can be. The songs themselves were renditions of various Christmas carols and liturgical songs of the season. However, it was amazing how the acoustics, the instruments and choralists, and the season all combined for a powerful emotional experience.

As far as I know, there is nothing in the Bible ascribing any particular role to music in Creation. However, one is tempted to believe the account penned by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Silmarillion where the creation process itself took the form of tremendous symphonies of the angelic hosts and ultimately from God Himself and that that music lives on, in faint echoes, in things as diverse as the crashing of the waves (!!) to composed musical pieces.

The psychological effect of music is truly amazing. It can call to mind memories of people and places in a way that the visual cannot (this is also true, I have found, with the sense of smell).

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