Abide With Me. A Hymn to Share with the Dying

One of the great and stately hymns of the Protestant musical heritage is “Abide With Me.” I love to play it at the organ, its rich chordal progression, and counterpoint in the pedal, create a very moving experience. The words too are a minor masterpiece that are a prayer of one approaching death with faith.

The author, Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) was an Anglican pastor in Devonshire England, for 23 years.  In 1844, Three years before his death Lyte was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. Despite this, he continued to work hard and was known to say, “It is better to wear out, than to rust out.” But his physical condition continued to deteriorate, until finally on September 4, 1847, at 54 years of age, he stood in his pulpit to deliver his farewell message. It is said, He was so weak that he almost crawled to the pulpit.

Later that day he retired to his room and wrote the words to this hymn: Abide With Me, as he meditated on the death he knew would soon approach. Advised by doctors to leave the cold, damp, coastal weather of England, he left for the Mediterranean. He died en route. A fellow clergyman who was with Henry during his final hours reported that Henry’s last words were: “Peace! Joy!”

Abide With Me was set to music by William H. Monk (1823-1889), and was played at Henry Lyte’s funeral service.

I have, when the situation was right, shared this him with the dying. Not all have fully accepted that they are dying, but for those who have reached the stage of acceptance, and when death seems certain, this hymn is very powerful, personal and poignant. It is a deeply personal prayer to the Lord to shepherd me through the valley of death and across chilly Jordan into the Promised Land of Heaven. As Catholics we can also see how it points to Jesus’ abiding presence in the sacraments and the liturgies celebrated for the dying.

The hymn opens with the approach of death described as the deepening darkness of eventide. At some point nothing, and no one in this secular world can help any longer. Only the Lord can help shepherd us through the valley of the shadow of death. And so the plea goes up: Abide with me.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me

The second verse poetically describes life as a “little day.” For in the end, how brief and how swift this life passes. And as it passes, all earth’s glories and joys seem so little. I have seen the dying with that look in their eye as they look through and beyond me. They see something and someone greater now.

As my Father lay dying and could barely talk in his final days he said, “I just want to be with God.” It was his way of saying, “Abide Lord with me!”

The third verse too begs of the Lord, not a mere passing word, but an abiding, a lasting presence, filled with patience, familial love and a mercy that stoops to raise us up to joys unending

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance, I beg a passing word;
But as Thou dwell with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me

The fourth and fifth verses amount to a plea for mercy based on God’s constant mercy of the past. It is not unlike the mercy verses of the Dies Irae which say: Think, kind Jesus my salvation, caused thy wondrous incarnation, Leave me not to reprobation! Faint and weary Thou hast sought me, On the cross of suffering bought me; Shall such grace be vainly brought me? Through the sinful Mary shriven and the dying thief forgiven, thou to me a hope has given! But here Lyte makes the basis even more personal as he appeals to the Lord mercy for him in the past.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me

The sixth verse calls to mind that at death’s approach some temptations increase. Perhaps it is despair, perhaps it is anger at God, perhaps we suffer unwillingly or with resentment, perhaps there is the tendency to be impatient  with those who seek to help or console.

Here are some of the reasons we anoint the sick and dying. Surely we pray for healing, but we also seek, by the Lord’s mercy to stave off the effects of illness that can draw us into temptation.

We also pray that one will courageously face death and, by facing it, see in it no sting, but only victory in the Lord.

It is the abiding presence of Lord that is communicated to the soul in the anointing: Through this holy anointing, may the Lord, in his love and mercy, heal you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Yes, for the dying: may the Lord abide with you in these last and difficult moments.

Holy Communion too, for those physically able to receive it also brings the Lord’s abiding presence. And so the hymn beautifully says:

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Yes, here is the cross. But it is the tree of victory, for it is the key that unlocks heaven. And soon it’s “Friday” gives way, after the passage through judgement and purgatory, to an eternal Sunday for those who die with faith. Only the cross of Jesus can perfect us and bring forth the endless day of glory where we will abide for ever with God.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me

Pray for and with the dying.

On Artistic Genius and Music as Onomatopoeia

Musical expression is a particular gift and genius of the human person. And our capacity for music is not just to make crude sounds. Rather we are possessed, at least collectively, of creative genius in this regard. The video below illustrates this genius.

Do you remember your grammar and the grammatical term Onomatopoeia? An Onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like the object it describes. Words like oink, meow, Wham! Sizzle, and my personal favorite:”Yackety Yak”

There are times too when music takes up a kind of onomatopoetic quality. In the video below Moses Hogan, one of the great modern arrangers of the old African American Spirituals describes his arrangement of “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” He has the male and female voices in a frenetic dialogue with lots of staccato notes dominating in the male voices. This creates the very sound of an intense battle! The song sounds like what it is describing. It’s a kind of “musical onomatopoeia.” There are other aspects of the same concept, you’ll hear the trumpet in the soprano and the battle reach climax in a moment of dissonance. And wait till you hear the walls fall at the very end in a cascade of notes!

In this three minute video Moses Hogan describes his intent of echoing the sound of a battle and then the song is sung. Enjoy this brilliant and beautiful arrangement of the Spiritual. Admire too the wonderful discipline of the choir that is necessary to execute this spiritual flawlessly.

On Beauty’s Relation to Truth – A Personal Testimony

When I was a freshmen in High School I had largely lost my faith. I was not an atheist, more of an agnostic. If God existed, I didn’t care. I was in a rather angry stage of my life. And frankly there were some things that I had every right to be angry about, things I need not discuss here.

I still went to Church, commanded there by my mother who did not care to discuss my many reasons for not going (thanks be to God that she did not cave in to my demands).

So there I sat in Church, bored out of my mind. I don’t remember that the priest had much to say and if he did I wasn’t in the mood to listen. But one Sunday, a small choir appeared. It was a choir of High School students. I don’t remember what they sang, I just remember that the girls in that choir were awfully pretty. Later that week in Religious Education (we called it CCD in those days), a man came into class and invited us to sign up for the new choir. “Is that the choir that sang last Sunday?”, I asked. “Indeed it was.”  he said. “Sign me up,”  I said. I remember that my mother laughed a bit because, of all the gifts I had manifested growing up, singing was not one of them.

But there it was. Beauty had hooked me. I will not promise you there was not lust admixed in my attraction. I will simply say that beauty drew me. And through that beauty the Lord would restore me to the truth. The Lord had my attention and my presence through that beauty and now the truth would gently permeate my unbelieving soul.

As luck would have it we sang a lot of traditional music in that choir. We weren’t the typical youth choir which sang a steady diet of folk music. I had never liked folk music, sacred or secular. It just didn’t impress me (just my personal opinion, I don’t say you have to agree). But the classical compositions of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Marcello, and the like impressed me. Here too, (remember I was a teenager)  it was related to girls 🙂  You see, folk music, at least the Church stuff,  has very little of a bass line to sing. But classical music used a lot of counter-point and hence the basses were kept busy and we got to sing a lot of low notes! Are you getting the picture?  Young teenager me, wanted to impress the girls in the choir with my deep voice. Classical music gave me the opportunity to do that. Hence,  my preference for the classical, simple as that.

But here too beauty was on the way. It was not as quickly appreciated as the beauty of the young ladies. It was a slowly discovered beauty. At first the music was just fun to sing, but slowly its beauty infused my soul. And as it’s beauty attracted me, the message of faith contained in that sacred music also became attractive. We would study not just the notes but also the words. I remember once singing a section of a Beethoven Credo (by then I was in my first year of college and we were preparing for a concert). The choir director explained  that the steady beating of the bass notes was to represent the hammer blows of  Christ being nailed to the cross as we sang “crucifixus etiam pro nobis.” (and he was also crucified for us). It was powerful to sing those notes. So the message began to sink in.

I need not say much more. My point is that God used beauty to draw me:  the immediate beauty of the girls in the Choir,  and the discovered beauty of the music. But it was through these beauties that I discovered the beauty of Truth. I joined the choir to meet my bride. In the end I did meet my bride. For it was through my deepening involvement with the Church through music that I discovered my Bride was the Church herself. My bride is beautiful and she is true.

This video is an excerpt from the film The Mission. Fr. Gabriel has gone deep into the rain forest were an untrusting and often violent people fear his arrival and hide preparing to stalk and kill him. But he takes out his oboe and plays a beautiful song (my first girlfriend played the oboe). The beauty draws them out of hiding and helps them accept him into their village. Beauty opened the door for truth and Fr. Gabriel begins to preach Christ.

On Creative Genius and Music as a Kind of Onomatopoeia

A few days ago we discussed whether Angels sing. My own conclusion from the discussion is that there is little or no evidence that Angels sing. About the closest reference is Job 38:7 and even there it is not perfectly clear that they sing. Perhaps the most positive way to state my point is that musical expression is a particular gift and genius of the human person. And our capacity for music is not just to make crude sounds. Rather we are possessed, at least collectively, of creative genius in this regard. The video below illustrates this genius.

Do you remember your grammar and the grammatical term Onomatopoeia? An Onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like the object it describes. Words like oink, meow, Wham! Sizzle, and my personal favorite:”Yackety Yak”

There are times too when music takes up a kind of onomatopoetic quality. In the video below Moses Hogan, one of the great modern arrangers of the old African American Spirituals describes his arrangement of “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” He has the male and female voices in a frenetic dialogue with lots of staccato notes dominating in the male voices.  This creates the very sound of an intense battle! The song sounds like what it is describing. It’s a kind of “musical onomatopoeia.” There are other aspects of the same concept, you’ll hear the trumpet in the soprano and the battle reach climax in a moment of dissonance. And wait till you hear the walls fall at the very end in a cascade of notes! 

In this three minute video Moses Hogan describes his intent of echoing the sound of a battle and then the song is sung. Enjoy this brilliant and beautiful arrangement of the Spiritual. Admire too the wonderful discipline of the choir that is necessary to execute this spiritual flawlessly.

When God gives”the Gift”

Back in college I became interested in learning to play the Pipe Organ. I had heard the thunderous resonance of that instrument and knew I wanted to play it and make the whole building shake. I had not studied piano as a child and so was starting from scratch. But I hammered away at it day after day, learning not only the hands but to play with both feet as well. In a few years I was good enough that I went on to become the daily organist at the seminary where I attended. But the truth is I never had “the gift.” I am able to play hymns accurately but learning them is hard and I am never really at ease when I play. The more elaborate organ works of Bach I will likely never play or master. It’s OK, because I am glad for what I can do.

But I must say I have always been amazed when I encounter those who have the gift, those who can play almost without effort, those for who the music seems to come from within. When they play they are not merely playing notes accurately but the music comes from deep inside. It is almost innate. I have met and worked with many who have the gift. Some are able just to hear something once and play it back almost without flaw. Others sight read music with ease. Still others play not only one instrument but many.  God just seems to put music and art inside of some people and no amount of explanation regarding how they’ve studied etc.  can fully explain the gift they have received. Studies can help refine the gift but they cannot explain it.

I remember a young woman at my last parish, Charnetta. I could put music of almost any complexity in front of her and she’d play almost without flaw. She could also play by ear and shift from gospel to classical, to modern and back again. She played with such ease and though I knew  she’d trained classically there was something on the inside, she just had the gift.

At my current parish is Kenneth who is also able to play almost anything. He reads music but can also play by ear. He tells me that when he was about five he heard his mother humming a hymn in the kitchen and then went to the piano and played it. At that moment they knew he had “the gift.”  For him too, his playing seems effortless. I rarely hear him practice he just knows the music innately it seems. From classical to gospel, to soulful spirituals and back again. I admire many things about his playing but perhaps what I find most fascinating is the ease with which he transposes. He will play the opening hymn at the organ and gradually take us up the scale, never missing a note. Kenneth too spent many years studying  music and has his Masters degree but in the end what he most has is the gift.

I remember attending piano recitals as a kid. Most of the kids who played were somewhere between dreadful and mediocre. But there were always one or two who sat down at the keyboard and you knew they were different. They had it inside, they had the gift.

It was the same with art. There were just some kids when I was growing up who knew how to draw. It was not that they had gone to art school, they just had the gift. I would marvel as they took a simple piece of paper and pencil and just went to work. And they did it with such ease, never erasing, never struggling, just drawing. And whether it was a simple cartoon, or something more detailed it was clear to me that they had something on the inside. I once asked a friend of mine named Ingo who had the gift to draw me a picture. “Of what?” he asked. “Oh I don’t know, maybe a farmer at his farm.” In less then five minutes he handed me a picture and it was good too! Ingo had the gift.

I guess the closest I can say that I come to having a gift is in the area of preaching and teaching. I love to do both and do them almost without effort. I never struggle with what to say, if anything it is what NOT to say since I go on too long. I often experience the gift most powerfully at 7:00 am weekday morning masses. I may be struggling to wake up, even dosing during the reading but when it comes time to preach I am suddenly awake and firing on all cylinders. And I know it isn’t me, its the Lord, it’s the gift. Sure enough when the homily is over I’m back to being sleepy and fumbling through the sacramentary as I drowsily look for the right page. (I’m not a morning person).

Don’t miss God’s gifts, in yourself or in others. And most often they can’t be explained in any other way. They are simply gifts. They are inside, deep in the soul. Years of study can help perfect them but the basic gift and ability seem to be right there from the start in those who have “the gift.” It is a uniquely human gift as well. Animals do not compose music or perform it, they do not sing, they do not paint or sculpt. Such gifts are uniquely human and part of our glory which God has bestowed. The gift and the glory are God’s but he has chosen to share them with some of us.

This video features a little girl named Emily who has the gift to play the piano. It was first noticed at age two. Emily, when asked how she can play so well says, “I don’t know, it just comes out of me.” — the Gift.

This video illustrates a young woman who received the gift to paint quite clearly from God. Even more beautifully she received the gift of faith as you will see.

Only Shades of Gray: A Critique of Moral Relativism in a Monkees Song?

There is a song about the sadness of moral relativism in an unusual place: “The Greatest Hits of the Monkees.” Some who are old enough may remember growing up with the songs of the Monkees. I confess their song “Only Shades of Gray” was not one I remember well from those days. But it is a fascinating song about moral relativism. Some think it’s just a song about growing up. But to most it speaks of a time when things were more certain and compares it to these more modern times when it seems everything is disputed and up for grabs, no more black and white, only shades of gray. It is all the more poignant that the song was written in the turbulent 60s and perhaps represented the anxiety generated by those times when just about everything was being thrown overboard.

Now I know that it is wrong to point any particular age as the “golden age.” Scripture itself warns against this: Do not say: How is it that former times were better than these? For it is not in wisdom that you speak this (Ecclesiastes 7:10). I am also aware that not everyone feels the same about the “good old days.” For some they were not all that good. We should not forget the terrible wars of the early half of the 20th Century. Further, I serve in a parish that is predominantly African American and for many of my parishioners previous days featured “Jim Crow” laws, disenfranchisement, lynching and enforced segregation.

And yet, it remains also true that some fifty years ago we had a much wider consensus on basic moral teachings and appropriate behaviors. Pre-marital sex was considered gravely wrong and guarded against. Remember chaperons and separate dormitory facilities? Easy divorce and remarriage was considered wrong. Abortion was illegal, it never even entered our minds to give children contraceptives. There was also strong consensus against homosexual activity. Families were larger and most were intact. There was also a general appreciation of the role of faith and prayer in American life. I could go on but perhaps this is enough.

Here too I can hear the objections: “We might have had those standards but we didn’t live them well….Things went on behind the scenes, families weren’t perfect, many kids still had sex etc. etc….” But I will respond by saying, At least we had those standards and saw them as truths to be respected. It is an extreme measure, a kind of nihilism, to say that since we do not live up to our standards perfectly we should not have them at all.

And I also know we were more wrong about some things in the past. We were more racist and less open to legitimate diversity, less concerned about pollution. But here too it is extreme to say that because we were wrong about some things in the past the whole thing should be thrown out. Why not keep the best and purify what is needed?

So here we are today, is a radically relativistic time where there is less and less agreement about the most basic of moral issues. And, without a common basis for discussion, such as Natural Law, or the Judeo-Christian worldview we are left to a battle of wills, an increasing power struggle where the one who shouts the loudest, has the most money, wins an election or has the most access wins, at least for the moment. Reason and principles increasingly do not transcend political, economic and social distinctions. There are fewer and fewer shared values that every one agrees on no matter what their party or background. Whatever our struggles of the past, we used to agree on more. Many of those certainties have been replaced by a wide presumption that everything is just shades of gray.

Listen to the song. Don’t forget my disclaimers. I do not propose a simplistic old=good; new=bad scenario. I just write to provoke thought. Please feel free to comment. I couldn’t find a good video of the Monkees performing the song (I think copyright may be involved) so I have included a group that sings it a lot like the Monkees did. First the words, then the video.

  • When the world and I were young,
  • Just yesterday.
  • Life was such a simple game,
  • A child could play.
  • It was easy then to tell right from wrong.
  • Easy then to tell weak from strong.
  • When a man should stand and fight,
  • Or just go along.
  • Refrain:
  • But today there is no day or night
  • Today there is no dark or light.
  • Today there is no black or white,
  • Only shades of gray.
  • I remember when the answers seemed so clear
  • We had never lived with doubt or tasted fear.
  • It was easy then to tell truth from lies
  • Selling out from compromise
  • What to love and what to hate,
  • The foolish from the wise.
  • It was easy then to know what was fair
  • When to keep and when to share.
  • How much to protect your heart
  • And how much to care.

The Music of the Spheres and a Bach Fugue in the Sky! The Fascinating Connection between Cosmology and Church Music

There are some pretty fascinating connections between cosmology and the music that has predominated in different ages of the Church. Now I said cosmology, not cosmetology. Cosmetology is the art of beautifying women, the beauty shop owner is a cosmetologist. But cosmology is the understanding of the universe (cosmos) in which we live. How do we see andunderstand the universe in which we live and our relation to it? And what does all this have to do with Church music?  Hmm… let’s see.

Chant and the Unity of All Things- In the earliest days of Church music plainsong and chant predominated.  A melody was sung unaccompanied and with no harmony. In fact there is early Church legislation  that frowned on use of harmony seeing it too strongly connected with paganism. There was also a cosmology among early Christians that stressed the unity of all things. That everything, no matter how  varied was ultimately from God and was united in God. The Patristic Fathers (eg Ignatius of Antioch et al.) imagined in heaven the angels and saints and yet despite myriads of them singing they all sang as if with one voice.  This patristic  teaching found its way into the prefaces of the mass sung or recited just before the Holy, Holy. There it is said that we join our voices with that of the angels who with one voice (una voce dicentes) say: Holy Holy, Holy Lord…. Thus unaccompanied, unharmonized chant reflected a cosmology of the day that all things and all people were ultimately one, united in God and sustained by Him.  St Augustine imagined that, in the end, when Jesus finally handed over the kingdom to his father that there would be unus Christus amans seipsum (One Christ loving himself).  Gregorian Chant exemplified through unison singing the cosmology of the oneness, the unity of all things (cf Quasten: Music in Pagan and Christian Antiquity).

Polyphony and the Music of the Spheres – But moving forward into the middle ages and toward the Renaissance we begin to discover rich and extended harmonies introduced into Church Music. Here too a cosmology is lurking just beneath the surface. As the ancient Greek Philosophers began to be “rediscovered” the ancient cosmology of the “music of the spheres” began to re-emerge. The ancients pondered the planets and stars as they swept through space. Each planet was thought made a perfect circle around earth. As they made this perfect circle they each rang out a different tone or note. These different notes rang out as a beautiful celestial harmony. Now harmony in church music began to be seen as reflective of the celestial harmony. Such cosmology and celestial harmony reached its apex and perfection in Renaissance polyphony (see video below).

Mathematical Baroque and the Ellipse of the Planetary Paths – Another change in cosmology is reflected another form of music.  In the 16th Century Copernicus discovered that the planets orbited the sun, not the earth.  Studies of the planets by Kepler and others at the same time revealed that planets do not orbit in perfect circles but in elliptical orbits, in a kind of a mathematical progression. This is really the insight of a musical form perfected at the time called the “fugue” A fugue introduces a musical theme and then develops the theme in a kind of mathematical progression. Much music of the Baroque period exhibits a kind of mathematical. If you’ve ever heard the famous Canon in D by Pachelbel you will note that it begins with a simple theme that builds mathematically as the as the half notes become quarter notes, then eighth notes, then sixteenth and even 32nd notes at the high point. Math as music reflecting the mathematical progression of the planets sweeping out their ellipses! So again, music and cosmology inter-relate.

Modern dissonance and relativity –  In modern times, the theory of relativity has come to predominate. Most people interpret relativity to mean that truth varies (it does not) and that beauty and perfection are ultimately indefinable (everything is relative). Of course this is not what the scientific theory of relativity really holds but most people have allowed this interpretation of the theory to affect their cosmology, their interpretation of the universe. Thus in modern music dissonance and chaotic rhythm often predominate. The music reflects a kind of uncertainty with the truth and order of things and in an almost iconoclastic way many modern composers radically reinterpret harmony, melody, and rhythm. Much modern art also bespeaks this “relativistic” cosmology.

So there is a quick tour of how cosmology and music are linked. Our Church is very old and we have lived through many shifts in cosmology. Our music reflects this journey. Below are two videos that illustrate the music of the spheres and the art of the fugue.

This first Video represents the “music of the spheres wherein the ancients saw the planets and stars sweeping though the heavens and each sounding a musical tone that added up to a beautiful celestial harmony. This cosmology is beautifully reflected in the Renaissance polyphony of the Church. This piece is Victoria’s O Magnum Mysterium and is translated: “O great mystery and wondrous sacrament that animals would see the birth of Christ. O blessed Virgin whose womb merited to carry Jesus Christ. Alleluia!” Listen and imagine the planets sweeping through the heavens in celestial harmony!

This video is of a Fugue in D Major by JS Bach (BWV 532.2). Notice how the organist announces the main theme in her right hand. The left hand answers, then the feet. The basic theme is then taken through a series of “mathematical” progressions. The fugue reflected the cosmology of the day which saw the planets as sweeping out an ellipse (not a perfect circle) around the sun in a kind of  mathematical perfection and progression: a Bach fugue in the sky! If you’ve never seen a fine organist play get ready for an experience. It is said that the organist is the greatest virtuoso and you’ll see why as our lovely and gracious organist shows forth the incredible skill needed to play the great Bach organ works. Her hands and feet will amaze you as they fly through the notes, never missing one!

In celebration of John of the Cross


Today is the feast of St. John of the Cross, a 16th century Spainard, who with Teresa of Avila reformed the Carmelite community. Teresa and John were a powerhouse of a friendship–exlporing the depths of the spiritual life and  discovering the rich Catholic expression of contemplative prayer. Like many close firendships, Teresa and John were very different in personality. Teresa was extroverted, funny, and engaging, John was serious and introspective, to the point that Teresa reports, she had to tell him to “lighten up!”

The Dark Night of the Soul

John’s contribution to the spiritual life is the exploration of what we  call the “dark night.”  Many of us know well the expereince of coming to know God through recognizing his presence in our lives, experiencing moments of grace and knowing they are gifts from God. There is another way we deepen our faith, a way that is part of our maturing in faith and giving ourselves fully over to God’s love–it is the experience of absence. At times we feel the absence of God, we feel abandoned, like Job, we feel that we are being tormented and though crying out to God we hear nothing.  Do we believe that indeed God has abandon us or failed us, or do we go on trusting that God is present and that all will be made well in God’s time? John helps us to navigate our way through the dark nights when all seems empty, only to experience a deeper union with our Lord.

The poetry of music and art

Loreena McKennit takes John of the Cross’s famous poem The Dark Night and sets it to the artwork of another famous Catholic, Salvator Dali.  it is here for you to enjoy.

 From today’s Morning Prayer, we pray in thanksgiving for all those who are learned and are as radiant as the sky in all its beauty; those who instruct the people in goodness and who will shine like stars for all eternity.