Joyful, Joyful!

 

I’m attaching an item I so enjoyed I simply have to share it. It is “Ode to Joy”, Beethoven’s magnificent chorus in the 9th Symphony, based on a Schiller poem, familiar to churchgoers as the great hymn, ”Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”. It moved me deeply, as music often does. But this presentation felt like a brave act of resistance to the “social distancing” we are all necessarily experiencing. A group of Dutch musicians, members of the Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra, separated from one another by the Coronavirus, playing from their individual, personal apartments, nevertheless reach out and connect through music and the result is both gorgeous and powerful. A daughter sent it to me, and I have watched and listened several times. I hope you will take time to do the same.

It set me to thinking about music. Reading David Brooks’ The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, I came across some provocative and insightful observations in a chapter on Vocation and what Brooks calls “The Annunciation Moment.” Brooks writes: “To feel wonderful in the face of beauty is to be grandly astonished. A person entranced by wonder is pulled out of the normal voice-in-your-head self-absorption and finds herself awed by something greater than herself.” (p.96)

I remember it clearly. When I was in the 4th grade my parents bought a used trumpet and arranged for me take lessons. They also enforced a rigid rule: no outside playing until I had practiced the trumpet for 30 minutes. Mother set the oven timer to assure that I practiced the full half hour. I thought it was torture, like being an inmate in a concentration camp, but I did it, mostly. Now – a beginner at any instrument does not produce anything remotely resembling beauty. Young, beginning violin, clarinet, trombone or trumpet players produce squawks and screeches as they labor with scales and exercises. The “Annunciation Moment” came when I was first a part of a real ensemble: for me it was Junior High School Band and the music was a John Phillip Sousa March. I was stunned at the music produced. Suddenly, my small, pathetic voice was part of something that made sense, and to my adolescent ear, sounded pretty good.

Music was a gift, given over and over many times. It has become one of my avocations. I never became as proficient at the trumpet as I wanted: sports, academics and other school activities kept interfering. But I was proficient enough to participate in music making through high school and college in bands, orchestras and small ensembles, and in the process was given many of my most memorable experiences: our high school band was invited to the National School Boy Patrol parade in Washington and I remember the thrill of turning onto Pennsylvania Avenue, playing American Patrol March – and winning first prize. Our high school orchestra did a credible job with Mozart’s 40th Symphony, (It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Mozart!), and a Mendelssohn Piano Concerto. My musical horizons were slowly but greatly expanded when I was invited to be the third chair trumpet player in the newly formed Community Symphony Orchestra. The hard truth is that the third chair trumpet player in a symphony orchestra doesn’t have much to do but count measures and listen to great music. Another “Annunciation Moment” came when, sitting beside the French horn section I was enveloped in strong, virile horn playing in the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. I remember still the hair raising on my neck.

Similarly, the great hymns of the church have often lifted me out of myself and placed me in the long history of God’s praise.

So, in the midst of the Coronavirus distancing and isolation, the music of the Rotterdam musicians, playing apart from one another but, nevertheless producing beauty, was a reminder that community is basic to who we are as human beings and is strong in spite of separation, and that the gift of music can help us through this challenge.

It is also a promise that we will endure and live to stand together again to sing….

Joyful, joyful we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love.
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,
Opening to the sun above.

Comments

  1. Barbara Fountain says:

    John, music is a gift from God. I remember well your trumpet playing in high school.
    Stay well.
    Barbara

  2. Linda Denison says:

    Thank you so much for this gift of beautiful music and love. I had tears of joy listening.
    Fourth Church member

  3. bandhdmitchellbmm0226 says:

    The gift of music can touch so many of us, thanks John. We couldn’t include it in this morning’s effort at worship and it was missed. Keep in touch, HD

    On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 10:41 AM Hold to the Good wrote:

    > John M. Buchanan posted: ” > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eXT60rbBVk&t=46s I’m attaching an item > I so enjoyed I simply have to share it. It is “Ode to Joy”, Beethoven’s > magnificent chorus in the 9th Symphony, based on a Schiller poem, familiar > to churchgoers as the g” > Respond to this post by replying above this line > New post on *Hold to the Good * > > Joyful, > Joyful! > by > John M. Buchanan > > > > > > > I’m attaching an item I so enjoyed I simply have to share it. It is “Ode > to Joy”, Beethoven’s magnificent chorus in the 9th Symphony, based on a > Schiller poem, familiar to churchgoers as the great hymn, ”Joyful, Joyful, > We Adore Thee”. It moved me deeply, as music often does. But this > presentation felt like a brave act of resistance to the “social distancing” > we are all necessarily experiencing. A group of Dutch musicians, members of > the Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra, separated from one another by the > Coronavirus, playing from their individual, personal apartments, > nevertheless reach out and connect through music and the result is both > gorgeous and powerful. A daughter sent it to me, and I have watched and > listened several times. I hope you will take time to do the same. > > It set me to thinking about music. Reading David Brooks’ *The Second > Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life*, I came across some provocative and > insightful observations in a chapter on Vocation and what Brooks calls “The > Annunciati

  4. David Haley says:

    Thank you, John, for sharing this. Truly brings tears to our eyes.

  5. T0ny Volpe says:

    Excellent John. Both the music and your words are a real gift!

  6. Thank you. As usual, your words “drive the dark of doubt away.” I’ll get my cello out before long and play along.

  7. Katherine Schroeder says:

    What platform did you use to perform together? Did you make individual videos and compile them or were you able to perform simultaneously? I sing with a choir and we have been looking for a way to perform together, but there are delays from the different computers. Thanks!

  8. Terry Price says:

    John, thank you for wonderful thoughts at a time when they are much needed. Your writing is always a masterwork to me, and your words lift me just as Vaughan Williams’ music always does. (I must add that when I first started learning the saxophone back in Stephenville, Texas, our next door neighbor came over to see if someone was trying and failing to kill a goose! He later took me with his family to the Fort Worth Opera where I experienced a new world of music indeed.) Thanks, as always.

  9. Gary Rayl says:

    Thank you John inspiring and an excellent connection In a disconnected time. Gary Rayl

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  10. Bill Cornell says:

    Thank you, John. I played drums in Jr. High and the Air Force ROTC in college. Chloe played alto sax in Jr High and High School. Our love to both you and Sue. Bill and Chloe >

  11. Terri hanson says:

    I always love to see “Hold to the Good” in my email, and this was especially beautiful! We miss you! Hope you and Sue and doing well in these difficult times. Sending lots of love, Terri and Tonyxoxo

  12. edward verschoor says:

    Thanks for sending this wonderful email.

  13. Reblogged this on jaslvr and commented:
    Rotterdam musicians playing Glorious music together but separate!Have a joyful and blessed day!

  14. Shannon Smith says:

    Dear John, Jeremy and I have been reading Hold to the Good for years now. I never realized that I could comment. Thank you for your words as they mean a great deal to us. We are facing the front lines here in Madison and it is a scary time for our family. Would you consider doing a podcast? I am tearing up at the thought of hearing your voice again.
    Sincerely,
    Shannon Smith

  15. Pat Sigmar says:

    Reverend Buchanan..you have followed my daughters Catherine and Marnie to Canada with your inspirational messages that they so kindly share. Thank you.
    May the day of resurrection bring you happiness and joy.
    In Christian love, Pat Sigmar [ Mother and grandmother to John, David, George and Joseph]

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