Devotion - May 23

Thank you again to Anthony Spain for our Saturday devotion.

One of the things to come out of this difficult time is how we have come to realize the importance of everyday interactions with people, no matter how insignificant they may initially appear.

A couple of years ago my wife and I went for a two day getaway to Whidbey Island. The first morning, a brisk early April Day, I went out for a jog and on a quiet back road saw an elderly woman taking her morning walk. A quick exchange of hellos turned into a 45 minute conversation, learning of an extraordinary life- from surviving the bombing in London in WWII to having exchanged letters and eventually meeting, the most famous English composer of the first half of the 20th century, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

She and I have since kept in touch since that day and I have now seen those letters by this famous composer. I was moved by the fact that that generation, of which C.S. Lewis was part of, took time to write to people who wrote to them, no matter how busy they were. Having experienced so much loss in their life time, no doubt helped them understand the value of human connection.

Having fought in WWI, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ emotions could easily have turned to bitterness, (and his 4th Symphony is certainly a testament to the tragedies of war), but this composer was ultimately known for the incredibly poetic introspective beautiful of his music.

The piece which really stands out to me by this composer is a piece he wrote for double string orchestra using a theme by a church musician of the 16th century, Thomas Tallis. I first heard this piece in college, and I can still remember the impression it left on me, even the time of day- and how the sun streaming in through the windows. Going through the loss of my mother not long before, while I can’t fully describe the effect this poignant piece had on me at that moment, what I do know is that I was suddenly changed and felt a peace I had not known for quite some time.

It is usual to include readings with devotions, but sometimes we simply need the beauty of music in our lives. Today’s devotion is about the beauty of listening to Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.” For tomorrow’s service we will also hear Ben sing Vaughan Williams’ “The Call.”

Link for “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”
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