Finding Heaven's Door

If you have ever read the book of Job from the Hebrew scriptures, you know how Job sat with his three friends for many days while being counseled. Job became very frustrated at the bad counsel he was receiving. After Job had spent all those hours listening to his friends, the Lord finally spoke, and revealed himself to Job. In great humility, Job replied: I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. (Job 42:5). In other words, after hearing God's voice, Job finally saw who God really was.

George Herbert, the English poet and priest wrote the poem entitled "Church-Musick," that expresses so elegantly, the notion that church music is the door to heaven.

Church-Musick

Sweetest of sweets, I thank you: when displeasure
Did through my bodie wound my minde,
You took me thence; and in your house of pleasure
A daintie lodging me assign'd.

Now I in you without a bodie move,
Rising and falling with your wings:
We both together sweetly live and love,
Yet say sometimes, God help poore Kings.

Comfort, I'le die; for if you poste from me,
Sure I shall do so, and much more:
But if I travell in your companie,
You know the way to heavens doore.

All the arts, whether music, dance, or the visual arts were first of all sacred exercises of worship, the human response to the mystical. Today our worship is laced with music. Why is this so? Our experience is no different than our ancient ancestors. Music opens the door to our hearts and minds, so that, like Job, we too can see God.

The word "liturgy" literally means, "the work of the people," Nancy Roth (See Note to my readers below) says that we could also call it "the play of the people." My sister and I still recall with joy how we acted out the stories our mother read to us from Egermeier's Bible Story book. Our earliest theological ideas grew out of that playing. That was our pre-school liturgy.

St. Paul said, “When I became a man, I put away childish things.” What then, becomes our “play of the people” when we become adults. It is the arts, including music, that open that door to the heart where we can find the unseen world within us. God is also an unseen part of our lives. But if we believe that God lives in our hearts and minds, then music also opens the door to the mysteries of God.

Prayer: O God, who created the music of the spheres, who made the eternal hills that sing of your majesty, and who taught the birds to sing, help us find the way to Heaven's Door through our music. But even more, may our music guide those who hear our song to that door where you abide within them. Thank you God, for the gift of music. We pray with the hymn-writer, Clara H. Scott, who wrote these words:

         Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear,
        And while the wave-notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
        Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see;
        Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit Divine.

Amen.

A Note to my readers: I was inspired to write this piece by a meditation with the same name, included in a wonderful little book entitled "Meditations for Choir Members," by Nancy Roth, and published by Morehouse Publishing Company in 1999. I hope she doesn't mind if I used her idea. I did not use her words. The concept is really a stroke of genius on her part. I have occasionally used this book to prepare meditations for the choir at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Venice, FL.


Copyright Jay D Weaver - December 23, 2002


Return to Poetry and Music Commentary