I’ve always loved time lapse videos, especially those depicting occurrences in the natural world that otherwise unfold too slowly to be readily apparent. A flower opening to full bloom in seconds, clouds racing quickly across the skies, stars seeming to rotate in the sky as the earth moves through space. This week, with the beginning of the “Born, United, Sent” series, we’ll commence a kind of musical time-lapse, moving through more than a millennium of musical development in just 18 weeks. We start this Sunday with monody, a single chant melody sung in unison. This was the music that threaded through the worship of the early Christian church for hundreds of years. Gradually, simply at first, other voices were added to these single melodies. As the flower opened, Renaissance polyphony blossomed, followed by the intricate counterpoint of the Baroque, the elegance of the Classical galant style, the drama and individual expression of the Romanticists and the mystical, sonic and harmonic explorations of the 20th and 21st centuries. As it often does, creativity in one area motivated technological developments: music notation, the printing press, increasingly sonorous and refined musical instruments.
If creating and disseminating beautiful sacred music is a worthy goal, and I happen to think it is, it’s a metaphor for what is needed when we want to spread any good idea, and it follows the contours of the “Born, United, Sent” series itself: make something beautiful, develop it in collaboration with others, then work to spread it beyond your own boundaries.
I look forward to experience this musical time-lapse journey together.