... in the music of the church
It has been a rough year for so many reasons. Although in many ways my pandemic has been easier than that of many others who live alone, had to shield, were ill or lost a loved one, it has still been hard, and in recent weeks, perhaps because things have actually been getting better, I have really noticed how hard it has been, and have sometimes felt worse than I did before. This was certainly not helped by a recent bereavement (unrelated to Covid). I shed a tear during the Palm Sunday service, especially when I heard the recording of 'Were you there when they crucified my Lord'.
Since the return to 'real' church services I have sometimes felt like I was still viewing the Mass through a screen, experiencing the Mass as though there was an invisible wall in my heart between myself and God.
In the last year, I have realised how much the music of the church and singing has been part of my spiritual life to date. But in the last few weeks members of the church music group have begun to sing the psalm (as a solo). I have found this deeply touching. Not all the singers are confident in singing solos, and the lack of live accompaniment can cause problems, but the words of each psalm are really brought home by being sung 'live' as they were always meant to be. During the Easter Vigil, my normally rule abiding church congregation had a small slip up when we got to the gospel acclamation, and joined in with the Alleluia response. There was a slighly embarrassed pause afterwards, as we realised we were still not meant to be singing, but it was a beautiful moment nonetheless.
Seeing the Paschal candle lit on Holy Saturday was beautiful too. Although the brazier and procession with candles was missing, simply being present at the lighting of the Paschal candle and hearing the exsultet sung (albeit not terribly well, alas) brought the Easter message home to me again. When the reading from the book of Ezekiel was read, I felt that the words rang true for me:
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.