It isn’t Syriac, not even Arabic; both of which I love to hear being sung at the Maronite church in Buffalo, New York—with the incense filling the worship hall in thick haze, the parishioners dressed in black, the back of their hair illuminated by the narrow and tall stained glass, and that sense of high church mystic becomes recognizable. A mystic that reminds me that Spirit isn’t inaccessible but remains forever out of our reach of understanding—but there is a closeness, still, to something sacred when hearing either languages of Aramaic and Syriac.
I’ve been told Aramaic was the language that Jesus spoke. Which only brings me closer to that sense of reverence and awe when hearing this chant recited. But, this melody also grabs me initially by the hollowing echo of a deeply moving and haunting melody. Underneath the veiled significance and mystic, I wonder why this prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer which offers the summation of the gospels, a sense of unity among those who pray a message of thanks and guidance, would be recited in such a somber, sorrowful weight?
I think that I am missing something. Well, I think I can only hear the mourning and grieving tones and I am missing whatever else that is lost when two cultures interact. Maybe what sounds of sorrow could very well be the richness of deep thanks. One day on a wet and humid April morning in Tennessee, I remember remarking how every sunrise is much like the mercy of Creator, a forgiveness that permits us to wake every day.
I mean, believe what you want to believe, but along these terms, how could someone ever repay something so priceless as life? Deep gratitude, maybe out of disbelief or seemingly miraculous intervention, can come in the form of weeping, can’t it? And maybe sometimes in our thanks there is still a thin lining of remorse and grief that we are all still trying to move around, even if we know it is forgiven. Can’t the two, joy and sorrow, sing together in a song? And can’t that song sound something other than the typical uplifting, yet so often stale sounding, churchy music?
Inspired by, https://youtu.be/locW-9S00VU