Music and the Divine


“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” -Martin Luther

When I lie in bed at night to go to sleep, I often listen to music. As I have a restless mind, music helps to relax and soothe. One particular night, as I was listening to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, I experienced something I can only describe as a religious experience.

I don’t know how to descripe it exactly, because it wasn’t a particularly visual experience, although the visual did play a part (as a combination of colors). It happened in the between states of not being quite awake and not yet haven fallen asleep. At first I saw a large blue expanse, much like the heavens, except much darker. Then other colors appeared, red and yellow and black. And then finally, a warm, radiant, golden light appeared over the other colors, as the sun over the clouds, and filled me with a sense of tranquility and peace. Startled, I opened my eyes.

To describe this experience in merely visual terms, though, would undermine it completely. What startled me, I think, was the sensation I received; a sensation of bliss, of some sort of universal power or spirit. Of something truly divine.

It could, of course, be that this was not something divine in the least, but merely my recollection of the sun, and the warmt and bliss of the sun (it did indeed look slightly like a children’s drawing of the sun, with rays emanating from it). For Europeans in particular, because of the harsh climate, the sun would have always been a most welcome sight. A profound bringer of warmth and life. Our ancestors have for untold thousands of years made symbols in tribute of the sun, in fact many of them worshipped it. It could therefore be that we have inherited some instinctual connection with the sun; in the same manner that I believe that the comfort we recieve from sitting in front of a fireplace is inherited from our cave-dwelling ancestors, where fire would mean the difference between life and death.

I would like to think that this was something more, and I certainly hope that this is the case. I would like there to be more to this world than is immediately apparent to us, than what we can feel with the touch of our fingers or what we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears. That we are more than merely a collection of atoms, that there is more than life and then the void of death.

I’ve wondered what brought this vision about; was it the music, or would it have appeared to me regardless? Was it the combination of music and the state of near-sleep? That state just before sleep, when you’re almost completely helpless and relaxed and open to your senses and to impressions from your surroundings.



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