Thursday, March 06, 2014

Creation's Music

"In the darkness something was happening at last.  A voice had begun to sing.  It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming.  Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once.  Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them.  Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself.  There were no words.  There was hardly even a tune.  But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard.  It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. . ."  
~From The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis

No other passage from fiction brings me to tears quite as quickly as the above.  There is something sublime in Lewis' description of creation.  Lewis had cause to associate the earth with voices.  In Luke's description of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we read:

     Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying:
     " 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!'
     Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
     And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."
     But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."  [Luke 19:37-40 NKJV]

What is more wondrous than Lewis' description is the possibility that creation is still singing to us, still making music that speaks of its Creator.  Jarbas Agnelli has shown that is entirely possible.  The winner of The YouTube Play Guggenheim Biennial Festival describes his entry:

"Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires.  I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit).  I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe.  I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating...

Here I've posted a short video made with the photo, the music, and the score (composed by the birds)."

Next, I came across this video of a modified turntable reading tree rings as music.

Henry Van Dyke's "Joyful, Joyful" (especially when sung to the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony) expresses this beautifully:

All Thy works with joy surround Thee.
Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.