Voicing Creation’s Praise
God establishes a creation which is itself a ‘return’ to him, brought into being to praise its Creator. And God establishes creatures who very existence is to voice creation’s praise, to focus the song of creation on creation’s Maker, to be ‘secretaries’ of praise (Herbert). Hu,mankind finds its tru being in improvising on the givennness of the created worldd with the others who are given to us, never treating givens as something to be owned or enclosed in finality, but ‘over-accepting’ them in such a way that they are regarded as intrinsically interesting, and rendered more fully felicitous for a potentially enormous number of fresh melodies, harmonies, and metres. – Jeremy Begbie, Theology, Music, and Time, p.252
The keystone for understanding what we call Christianity is the passion event of Jesus of Nazareth. In the suffering, crucifixion, death, and resurrection from the dead, we have enacted both the whole internal relationship of the Trinitarian interrelationship of eternal generation, eternal return, and the love that flows between this eternal act. We call this eternal act Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and rightly, because these are persons in the technical sense – fully realized in and of themselves, yet never for themselves. It is precisely in the Christ-event that Divine gratuity becomes revealed in all its clarity; that the Divine “for-otherness” of the Trinity is revealed in its fullness.
It is from this central revelation that we can then look back to the story of Creation and understand the central point – existence itself is grace. There is no necessity to what is. The creation was the prodigal love of the Trinity overflowing in the desire for an other, a not-God, to be so to praise the love and abundant joy of being-with that is the Trinitarian life.
We humans, more than any other creature, are the voice of creation’s praise to the Creator. In the discovery of our limited, constrained freedom, we also discover all sorts of possibilities for creating sounds, sounds that might yet be new, might yet be a thing never before heard. Whether in a cathedral, a club, a concert hall, or sitting around a living room – our musical creations are the grace-filled expression of human joy at the simple fact of existence. And it is precisely because all that is, including the Divine life itself, is sheer gratuity, those who create music need not be aware that is what they are doing. In fact, their intention might be quite the opposite! This does not diminish the power of the Holy Spirit to take our music – all of it, from chant and polyphony through hymnody, spirituals and the blues, jazz and hip-hope – and make of it praise from creation to Creator.