A Place of Silence and of Music
Fr. Scott Haynes
The Divine Comedy describes the liturgy of heaven and hell. Dante paints a picture of hell as a place of constant noise and heaven as a place of silence and music. In the Inferno, the “soundscape” of Hell is characterized by disharmonic harshness, screams, waling and the grinding of teeth. This perverse music is terrible. It overpowers Dante. He covers his ears—a far cry from the melodic harmonies which the poet describes resonating through the heavens.
We can only surmise what the music of heaven is like and the peace and the refreshment it must give. But on this side of the veil within the unfolding of the Church’s sacred worship, we must strive to make our music a beautiful musical offering unto God. I conclude with a poem by Charles Phillips. Simply titled Music, its words capture this thought most eloquently:
There is a hunger in my heart, a longing in my soul, to hear The voice of heaven, o’er the noise of earth that so assails mine ear:
For we are children of the skies, exiles and wanderers from home- See how the stars like candles burn in windows far from where we roam:
Like candles lit to show the way, dear kindly beacons, sure and bright! But O the heavy journeying, and O the silence of the night! –
He speaks. He answers quick my prayer. He opens heaven’s lattice wide; He bids me bathe my brow in airs of heaven like a flowing tide!
He speaks; He gives unto my soul, unto my listening ear, its meed: He breathes upon me with the breath of music – and my soul is freed
And I am lifted up and held a little while, a child to see The beauty of my Father’s House, which shall no more be shut from me.