Friday, August 28, 2009

High Church Musical

My 4.5 y.o. daughter has recently become interested in High School Musical. Saying "interested" is something of a understatement. For the longest time, about 30 years, I hated musicals of any kind,The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins (which has deep theological import, see here), if it had Rogers and Hart, or Hammerstein, or even Sondheim in it I wouldn't give it a chance. That was before the Buffy: the Vampire Slayer episode, "Once More With Feeling."


This episode showed me the importance of song for the expression of what can't be simply said. Now, I'm kind of a fan of musicals, I still don't care for the Sound of Music; but I'm open to the idea, I really liked Moulin Rouge, and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along blog.

Musicals communicate a depth of feeling that words sometimes can't, music itself, its rhythms and harmonies (not to mention the cumulative associations we all bring to how music makes us feel, which coincidently, there are real biological reasons why minor key songs are wrenching for us emotionally. It has to do with overtones that harmonize nicely, and minor keys clash with that, causing cognitive dissonance) amplify the message.

What strikes me as funny, but also poignant, about musicals is that the characters simply break into song, then go about their lives as if the song was just the thing to do.

We do this in the church too, especially when we chant. We break into song. "Come let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation." Singing that carries more meaning, and involves more of my physical body, than simply saying the words.

Singing, in chant, hymns, and South Pacific, all mean one thing: These words need more, these words say what I mean, but they need my complete abandon, my emotional nakedness!

Breaking into song, there is something very true in that phrase. We break from the standard politeness of regualr speech and communication, into something more vulerable and concentrated.

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