Praise. An interesting word. It is easier to blame than to praise. The society I happen to be a member of – I experience it as ego-centric, arrogant, cold-hearted. It leaves little room for praise. I try to praise whenever I see merit and whenever I can do it in an honest way. I praise my daughter when she has done well at school. I praise my team at work when we achieve what we intended to do. I praise God… well, that has come a little out of fashion in my world. Luxembourg is known for its high GDP and its many naturally born lamenters.
The dominance of science
Marveling at nature? Mesmerized by a beautiful piano sonata? Amazed by the fact that we can land a spacecraft on comet? The first can be explained by biology, the second by acoustics coupled with human creativity, the third through physics and aerospace engineering. What’s God got to do with it? Nothing. I live in a disenchanted world and I don’t need God to explain the physical world.
The inner void
But what about that inner void, that no logic can explain away? Rationalism does not give my life a meaning. It is not meant to. God however has some 5000 years of market experience and a global presence in the business of making sense. Occasionally I praise God for the simple fact of being able to enjoy all the beauty I experience in my life. I am, I enjoy and I am grateful. What’s God got to do with it? Everything. Whom else should I thank for the happy feeling that everyday I receive a great gift: a life I enjoy?
I am done with the sermon now. Music, at last. Hallelujah! (Can’t resist it, sorry!)
Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy wanted to praise God too. He knew why. He had all those gifts: a brilliant composer, familiar with Europe’s literature and philosophical ideas, he knew his Latin and his Greek and spoke several languages. A young, idealistic German bourgeois enlightened by rationalism. He wanted to reconcile Judaism, Catholicism and Protestantism (see that post on the “Reformation Symphony”).
In 1840 he wrote Symphony No. 2 “Lobgesang” (Hymn of Praise), Op. 52. Listen to this masterwork. Enjoy its beauty and its pureness. It has been recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra under Claudio Abbado.
© Charles Thibo