Monday, July 04, 2011

Heavenly Music

As the Bishop of Bath and Wells dismissed us from the Cathedral yesterday he quoted the late Robert Runcie, former Archbishop of Canterbury, who apparently once said that the only music in heaven would be Mozart. So we may as well get used to it, added Bishop Peter.

I glanced back through my service order to see if that which had been inflicted upon us over the previous two hours had been Mozart. Some of it had.

My wife told me afterwards that I had better become familiar with Mozart and a parishioner offered some advice as to where to begin.

I resisted heckling the bishop at the time and I avoided telling either my parishioner or wife where their advice might be gently placed but I'd like to suggest that it is they, not I, who have misunderstood heaven.

Someone once asked Jesus about an unfortunate hypothetical woman who had outlived several husbands and, trying to catch him, wondered whose wife she might be at the resurrection? Jesus pointed out in reply that there would not be marriage at the resurrection. People will be like angels, he went on, and God is god not of the dead but the living. The noise we may hear in the background is probably Matthew grinding an axe but the point is nevertheless well made be it Jesus' or Matthew's.

So if that is a principle it tells us that whatever you phrase the question about it cannot become the rule of heaven. Our favourite beer now will not be the ale of the afterlife. Our most-loved book today will not be on the shelf in St Peter's waiting room. And so on.

There will be something going on in heaven that makes us realise what we were seeking in these human relationships and likewise the music will be that which helps us to understand what we were listening for whether we liked Mozart or Motorhead in this world.

And finally I might add, if 10% of what I have just read about Mozart is true, we should have no worries about the lifestyles of our worship-music leaders.

For the 25 millionth time - not all of us who are ordained enjoy cathedral style worship. We have the grace to endure it because we suspect that if our own style was catered for there would be walk-outs. We are more mature.

You don't have to like Mozart's ditties to be a Christian.


RuthJ said...

As a moderate Mozart-lover I consider 'ditties' to be gratuitously patronising. However, I would very much like to know upon what the bishop based his very limited view of the heavenly euterpean provision!

Anonymous said...

Can one go a step further Steve, by saying that no music can be called holy unless all of it can be?

Imagine what it would all look like if you HAD to like any form of music to be in. Oof. Next game- which music would be the most inclusive/ least inclusive.

I'll go for... Elton John. People all over the place love his shtick.

And Cradle of Filth for the other one.

Jez W

Anonymous said...

brilliantly written, and dead right too.

will have to look out for more of this mozart fella - were his lyrics as good as the moz who was in the smiths? His tunes are a bit samey from what I've heard so far...


St said...

Gratuitously patronising. Fantastic. Well done me.

Revsimmy said...

Absolutely right St. Speaking as (only) a moderate Mozart lover (there are other composers of many genres that I prefer), I find his music far too theatrical for worship.

Mike Peatman said...

As a fellow victim of musical snobbery from classical enthusiasts, I would like to echo the fact that not all of us in dog collars thrive with cathedral worship or think that music has to be at least 250 years old to be sacred.

Enjoyed the Mozart ditty line, btw. It was 18th century pop music by someone who had quite a rock 'n' roll lifestyle.

RuthJ said...

I agree about the musical snobbery of many classical music lovers. Let's just acknowledge that there can be an equal degree of snobbery from classical music haters.

Glad to have stroked your calliopean/thalian ego, St.