Saturday, February 28, 2009

Something Lovely for a Grey Day

I am a truly unmusical person. This is why I tend to prefer comical songs: I can appreciate interesting words (lyrics) better than I can the music itself. But everyone can be moved by some music at some time. I can remember being invigorated by some rousing bits of classical music when I was an adolescent and touched by an instrumental piece called "Vincent" I heard on the radio as a teen, the pleasant near-nostalgia I had as an adult non-believer hearing some of the hymns I'd heard sung in church as a child, the pleasure it always is to get to sing Christmas carols in a group. But nothing is as moving to this non-musical person as hearing someone who's good at it sing Ave Maria--no, not even hearing Amazing Grace, the one hymn that I liked even as an adult non-believer and that gives me a little shiver all down my body even when I sing it to myself in a voice that can't be made good at singing even inside my head. Amazing Grace, lovely though it is, is about the person or people singing--their downtroddeness and transformation through grace. The Ave Maria reaches above and beyond the person singing; it is lofty and inspiring, like a cathedral.

I can't sing it myself, but I love to hear other people sing it. I've often listened to Aaron Neville sing it in my car, through the gift of modern technology; buy a copy of his CD Believe and you can too. Here's a few links so you can listen right now:

The lyrics in Latin, English, German, and Slavic plus a few music clips.

Bobby McFerrin and audience doing an interesting version.

A site that has lyrics and music clips of a number of Catholic hymns (check out the Salve Regina; that is the only song other than the annual Christmas carols that I've enjoyed singing in church since I became Catholic).

And, saving the best for last, Luciano Pavarotti singing Ave Maria.

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