Last year, I went to a music-based Tenebrae service at Church of the Resurrection UMC in Kansas City. This year, after the Maundy Thursday service at Athens First UMC, I went to the UGA music school's performance of G. Mahler's Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection"), a powerful piece of work from the turn of the Twentieth Century, which tells of a man thinking about life at a friend's funeral. The conclusion, the fifth movement, ends with the man witnessing the Resurrection and the glory and love of God.
During this performance, I thought about music. Though not very skilled at making it, I certainly do enjoy it and am often moved by it. From hymns to old slave spirituals, a well-written song can change your outlook on an entire day. Beethoven's Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, Howard Shore's music for the Lord of the Rings, and even modern bands such as UnderOath and mewithoutYou all have the ability to change everything in the span of one line.
The best scene in the movie The Shawshank Redemption is when Andy (Tim Robbins) plays an opera album over the prison's loud speakers. Red (Morgan Freeman) narrates that he still doesn't know what "that lady" was singing about and doesn't want to know. He likes to think that it is something so poetic that talking about it just won't express it.
It must be no coincidence, then, that some of the best religious pieces deal with the Crucifixion. Songs like "Where You There" serve when normal words do not do justice to the sorrow, pain, beauty, and love of the Cross.