Posts Tagged 'religion'

Learning to Trust Divine Guidance

Anyone who has asked for divine guidance knows that it can be challenging to trust it when it comes. This is because divine guidance comes in many forms and it is sometimes hard to locate it. We aren’t sure if we are meant to trust our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, or our intuitions to be the carriers of divine wisdom. We are not sure if advice from a friend is the form in which the guidance has come into the world, or if our own opinion is the source of wisdom we need to take seriously. The ability to sort all this out comes with trial and error, and the best way to learn to recognize divine guidance is to engage in the process of asking and receiving.

Sometimes when we ask for guidance, we already have a sense of what we want to hear. At such times, receiving guidance can be difficult, because we don’t want to hear anything that appears to be in opposition to our desire. Therefore, one of the most important qualities we need to cultivate if we are to receive guidance is an open mind. It helps to acknowledge what we want, and then to symbolically set it aside, making room for whatever wisdom comes through to us.

Cultivating an active relationship with the divine is the essential ingredient to being able to receive and trust guidance when it comes our way. We can make a daily practice of this by using a set of runes, a deck of cards, or a pendulum. We can also use our journals, developing a relationship with the divine through the written word. As we request and receive guidance, we might take notes on our experiences. Over time we will begin to recognize when we were able to hear correctly and when we were not. In this way, we will gradually attune ourselves to our particular relationship with the divine. Begin to trust the guidance you are receiving and soon you will find it flowing with ease.



Music that Ties the Knot

The guests are invited and you’ve drawn up the lists, but what music should be playing at your wedding? Jeremy Nicholas explains the history of wedding music and gives some advice.

With a fair wind behind me, I can just about stagger my way through Widor’s Toccata on the three-manual organ of our local church (as long as no one’s listening too closely). I’ve lost count of the number of weddings at which I’ve played and the hours I’ve spent guiding friends and strangers through the hymn book and the vast wealth of music they can choose to have played at their service. I have learnt that you can divide the happy couples into two groups: those who have precise and definite ideas on the music they want, and those who ask for Wagner’s ‘Bridal Chorus’ and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March.

It’s strange that it is two pieces of theatre music that have become the most popular accompaniments for a church wedding. One is from an 1850 opera, Lohengrin, the other from the incidental music to a play (Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream). It’s stranger still that this religious ceremony has attracted so little ‘entrance and exit music’ that is non-secular. Few of the popular alternatives are the products of Christian belief – ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ (oratorio?), trumpet voluntaries by the likes of Purcell, Clarke and Stanley, or the ubiquitous Toccata from Widor’s Fifth Organ Symphony. So how did the Wagner and Mendelssohn pieces become inseparable from the wedding service? And, before their composition, to what music did newly weds walk down the aisle?

Continue reading ‘Music that Ties the Knot’

Wordless Wednesday: Happy St Brigid’s Day!



Sounds of Heaven

When a medieval German nun was struck at the age of 43 by a vision – flames descending upon her from heaven – it signified to her that she should write music. 900 years after her birth, the chant of Hildegard of Bingen has never been more alluring. Barry Witherden tells her story.

Circa 970 AD, just outside Bingen, Archbishop Hatto II was eaten by mice as punishment for mistreating his flock. In the late 1140s a more dignified kind of fame returned to the neighbourhood when Abbess Hildegard – Saint Hildegard, according to the Roman martyrology and some German diocese, though she was never formally canonised – established a new convent at Rupertsberg just a few miles away. Hildegard was born at Bemersheim in 1098, the tenth child of aristocratic parents who sent her to be educated at the Benedictine convent at Disibodenberg when she was eight. She stayed until about 1147, succeeding as prioress in 1136. By 1150 she had founded her own community at Rupertsberg. She had had visions since she was a child, but in her forty-third year she saw tongues of flames descending onto her from heaven. After a council appointed by the Archbishop of Mainz confirmed the authenticity of her revelations, a monk, Volmar, was commissioned to record them. He continued to act as her secretary at Rupertsberg, and collected 26 of her visions in Scivias (Know the Ways), completed in 1152.

Continue reading ‘Sounds of Heaven’

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Elevation of the Holy Cross


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