Music Give Soul to the Tenor of Celestial Sounds

In All Saints Parish a full house listened to Mozart, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Bach and John Rutter’s All Saints In Paradise. The Saturday evening gathering featured the Coolidge Corner Community Chorus performing their annual concert under windows of stain glass. This scene of musical choirs giving voice to great music in June takes place in many chapels and schools all over the world. There is good reasoning behind the use of music to celebrate the end of the academic year, the emergence of spring, and the unity we feel when listening to songs of ourselves.

Music for me?

I had been asked by a member to join this community singing group, to rehearse these challenging choral selections over the course of a year, and become an integrated and seemless part of the tenacious tenors. I had resisted this opportunity for a year. My friend Jackie who sings with the alto section offered baked brownies at regular intervals of conversation in her quest to bring me and two other Dads from our common elementary school parent friendships into this well-regarded singing group. Her recruitment efforts paid off as eventually all three of us joined her chorus.

All Bells in Paradise (Rutter)

Deep in the cold of winter,
Darkness and silence were everywhere;
Softly and clearly, there came through the stillness
a wonderful sound to hear:
All bells in paradise I heard them ring,
Sounding in majesty the news that they bring;
All bells in paradise I heard them ring,…

I had sung in a schoolboy choir for five years and was still hesitant. Singing out of the hymnal was fun and easy to do for me. But singing in an adult chorus and reaching every note on pitch and on time was terrifying. Over the course of the year’s rehearsals on Wednesday nights I found myself again in the work of unearthing my musicality.

Soul Search

I couldn’t even find the words to describe this until half-way through the year when I finally uttered to myself that I had found my soul, again. Where had my soul gone when obviously it had not gone anywhere? It had not suddenly re-appeared, I thought, it awaits our call, listening, humming, pulsing in the background to our lives.

“pulsing, rhythmical, metrical, measured, throbbing, beating, pulsating, cadenced, lilting, repeated, periodic, regular, steady, even, paced…a rhythmic orchestral accompaniment.”

a set of online synonyms

Harmony of the Spheres

Like Jack Kerouac I had found it deep inside of me waiting for my attention, but covered by all my tricks to hide it. My tricks were not malicious, but simply the common ways we look at things less deeply: For example, my focus on what should be done instead of my sense of what is now already underway. And, my stereotype of Bob Dylan as “Blowin in the Wind” instead of feeling that “I’m a genius all the time” (Kerouac), “When I paint my Masterpiece” (Dylan). Kerouac’s advice to other writers was write from the deep place, clear away the conventions, the grammar, the impediments to the deeper truths of the inner monologue.

“In a theory known as the Harmony of the Spheres, Pythagoras proposed that the Sun, Moon and planets all emit their own unique hum based on their orbital revolution, and that the quality of life on Earth reflects the tenor of celestial sounds which are physically imperceptible to the human ear.”

Musica Universialis

I see the universe is right there waiting for me, not waiting to be better but rather to see the better of my self right now, and to link that up with the larger picture in our minds and in our universe….

This Song Of Myself

Or, and, so, be here right now, strengthening my soul understanding with immersion in music leads me to sing the song of myself (Whitman) like a howlin wolf (Southside of Chicago musician). I search now for the ‘Harmony of the Spheres’ despite the clouds of theories and the fog of war. As our concert fills the void of church space I realize the void is already waiting for me and for us, filled with a more subtle musicality—humming a rhythmic tune—as we are now joining that celestial choral in this earthly church, in our reading and singing of these words, in our lives, today.

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”


My soul seems to to be throb as I sing, linking up with others in my tenor section, combining with the bass, alto, soprano sections, integrating with my friend Jackie, transformed by the power of Lee our conductor, and heard and felt by the audience in the church…

My soul is the universe and, we are the souls of that universe.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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