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From the Vicarage - July

Desert Island Discs is a radio programme which will be familiar to many, having been on the soundwaves for over 80 years. A guest or ‘castaway’ is invited to choose eight pieces of music, a book, and luxury to take with them should they be cast away on a desert island. Their musical choices punctuate the programme and become the soundtrack for a conversation during which the guest shares some of the significant moments or turning points, the themes and the threads of their own life story.

Of course, the advanced technology of today means that many people regularly

produce personal ‘playlists’ - compilations of music which speak to them or motivate them in some way, soundtracks which can be updated or renewed, as and when.

I have just spent a week enjoying some of the delights of the music of the Swaledale Festival. In just five days I have been immersed in everything from Bach to Messiaen, alongside elements of traditional folk singing music,

modern-day ballads and protest songs, and ancient sea shanties!

Music and singing have always been a part of the way in which faith has been expressed down the ages, and those who have ‘practised’ a faith either throughout, or for some period of, their lives will likely have a faith soundtrack of sorts too. I remember the rousing Methodist hymns of my childhood, along with the brass band concerts and the chapel teas. I remember, as a young adult, experiencing the colour and drama of Cathedral liturgy and the rhythm and beauty of choral evensong sung day in and day out come what may.

And there are certain phrases and lyrics from the eclectic music of my own faith journey which I know have shaped me and which remain with me as an internalised and portable soundtrack, able to be drawn upon if I choose, or triggered sometimes even when I don’t!

There is a lovely phrase in one of the Church’s Eucharistic Prayers (a prayer said over the bread and wine at the altar) of which I am particularly fond. It firstly expresses wonder at a God who has “…created all things” and whose “works echo the silent music of your praise…”. It then goes on to wonder at a God who “gives us breath and speech, that with angels and archangels, and all the powers of heaven, we may find a voice to sing your praise…”

It paints for me, a picture of creation which has music at its heart – even in the silence - and of humankind as creatures who simply must sing, and should praise, because it is in our DNA!

May the days of these summer months give us opportunity to pause and to hear the music of creation around us, to reflect upon the playlists of our own life-journey, and perhaps even to add our own voice to the soundtrack, if no other reason than to say, “Thank You for the Music!”

Carolyn (Vicar)


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