Renewing Our Inheritance
From early in the Church's history, Holy Week and Easter have inspired many profound artistic works, and for good reason. The events honored during this all-too-brief season invite creative commemoration, especially in music. They were and are the fulfillment of the redemptive love of God, of his eternal purposes being realized in history, and no art form expresses the mysterious relationship between time and eternity and between the personal and the cosmic better than music.
Those living through this history were propelled into a range of intense human emotion and spiritual alertness; their response has been conveyed (however approximately) to subsequent generations through poetry, visual representation, and musical forms. Music may have an edge on those other modes of communication: as philosopher Susanne Langer argued in Problems of Art, music sounds as feelings feel.
The significance of this sequence of experiences cannot be received without the engagement of sanctified imaginations and the welcome assistance of gifted servants capable of conveying to our minds and bodies the drama implicit in this victorious divine incursion. During the sacred meal shared with the disciples on the night in which he was betrayed, Christ gave a command to remember, a command followed by the singing—from memory—of one of the songs of Zion. Even in the midst of his suffering, our Lord quoted from the hymns of his ancestors. He recalled their history and articulated his membership in it by remembering their songs.
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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