On beauty

The other day I heard a song that moved me to tears. That is, NEARLY moved me to tears, because crying over a song is just ridiculous, after all.

But I had to think about why I was so moved because emotion like that is very rare. In fact, I don’t ever recalled being so moved by music before. And what quickly became obvious was it was because of the beauty of the song.

The song was the old and familiar hymn ‘Just As I Am’. This hymn is known to just about everybody in the Western world, I think. It always closed the preaching services of Billy Graham and it is often associated with the part of evangelical church services in which people are encouraged to consider the claims of Jesus Christ and yield themselves to faith in Him.

Though freighted with spiritual meaning, it was not that meaning that moved me. It was simply melody itself, or more precisely, the particular arrangement I was listening to. It was beautiful. Beautiful like a flowing river. Beautiful like a black sky filled with stars. Beautiful like Ozarks hills aflame with autumn color as seen from atop one of those hills.

It got me to thinking about beauty as an ideal, or as a concept. I know next to nothing about the subject, yet am persuaded that beauty is something that can be defined somehow, and that it is worth knowing about and understanding.

Here’s where I am – while I don’t yet understand the “real” definition of beauty, or the “ideal” of beauty, I know that after hearing that song, I am not really interested in hearing songs, or music, that do not even attempt to get at that place in me that makes me say, “That’s beautiful.” In other words, “Splish, splash, I was taking a bath” just doesn’t cut it, anymore. I’m not saying there won’t be a time for the Eagles, or Billy Joel, or Frank Sinatra again. I am sure there will be.

But not for a while.

Meanwhile, here is the song that so moved me.

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One thought on “On beauty

  1. I’ve heard music that moves me to tears and you’re right, the exact “why” of it often doesn’t have to do with the words or the meaning, otherwise just reading it would have the same effect. The one that reliably does it for me is “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphy. But beauty in other forms do it too. Beautiful sights, sounds, and experiences when everything lines up just *so* is what does it, but I don’t know the exact recipe.

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