Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Friendship, in Perfectly Unpolished Harmony

 First, C.S. Lewis on Friendship: 

Lamb says somewhere that if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A but "A's part in C", while C loses not only A but "A's part in B". In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald's reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him "to myself" now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can they say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, "Here comes one who will augment our loves." For in this love "to divide is not to take away." Of course the scarcity of kindred souls -- not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices -- set limits to the enlargement of the circle, but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious "nearness by resemblance" to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah's vision are crying, "Holy, Holy, Holy" to one another (Isaiah VI, 3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.

...We think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting -- any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples "Ye have not chose me, but I have chose you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends "You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that is is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing. At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us not reckon without our Host.

Not that we must always partake of it solemnly. "God who made good laughter" forbid. It is one of the difficult and delightful subtleties of life that we must deeply acknowledge certain things to be serious and yet retain the power and will to treat them often as lightly as a game. ...For the moment I will only quote Dunbar's beautifully balanced advice: 

Man, please thy maker and be merry,/ And give not for this world a cherry. 

--The Four Loves 

This Saturday we had a group over to sing. Only one of us was professional; everyone else just liked making music. Most, but not all, could read music. Everyone had had some experience singing chorally, in various capacities. And we wanted to tackle the Biebl Ave Maria with our limited time. 

Someone pulled out a phone and recorded our last run-through, after an hour's practice. It's not perfect, listening to it objectively, but in the moment it was glorious. If I listen carefully, I can pick out almost every individual voice. There in the soprano of the quartet is Amy, with the teenage girls (Isabel, Clare, Lilliana, Annie). Alto is Mary, Eleanor, and Loriann, each voice unique enough that I can tell them apart. Tenor is Stephen booming away, Ryan holding the phone, and Brandon quietly supporting them. Bass is Will, solid but blending so well that I have to focus to hear his line alone. The trio is Anna, Liz, and Cat -- my sisters and me. Anna is the professional and soars ethereally, but Liz and I blend so well that I have to listen particularly for each line to know whose voice I'm hearing. The antiphons are Will, cut off on his first note; me, looking up from the music in the middle and losing the thread for a second, and Anna, who started on the second antiphon before remembering that we were at the third. Every little mistake and trip and lost harmony is precious, because it was part of the joy of the experience. And we nailed the last chord, which is all that matters. 


Bernard Franklin Brandt said...

Truly, a joyous noise.

And I mean that in a good way.

Jocelyn said...

Very happy, hearing this. God bless you for putting it on your site.

Jeff Stivers said...

Love to hear this in any arrangement. We processed into our wedding with this song 25 years ago with just 4 voices and it was beautiful. Thanks for sharing your lovely version.