More like the voice of angels

I am not sure why angel voices are those of women or of boys when the named angels are Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. But if I am not very much mistaken, the voice of the Webb Sisters is absolutely heavenly as it bears the gravelly voice of Leonard Cohen to the heights of beauty. For me this voice of the angel from John Tavener’s Eternity’s Sunrise sounds like it’s from the very heart of heavenI wonder if this is how angels sound. They seem to have all the time in the world.Friends Christopher Burkett and Jayne Shepherd have shared this story illustrating the power of words – surely the touch of an angel. (I wonder why Church of England bishops can’t sound and look like this).

For the record, the Webb Sisters sing (and pray) on Leonard Cohen’s new album Old IdeasWith Raphael (angel of healing) they sing Come Healing.

O gather up the brokenness
and bring it to me now
the fragrance of those promises
you never dared to vow
The splinters that you carry
the cross you left behind
come healing of the body
come healing of the mind
And let the heavens hear it
the penitential hymn
come healing of the spirit
come healing of the limb
Behold the gates of mercy
in arbitrary space
and none of us deserving
the cruelty of the grace
O solitude of longing
where love haas been confined
come healing of the body
come healing of the mind
O see the darkness yielding
that tore the light apart
come healing of the reason
come healing of the heart
O troubled dust concealing
an undivided love
the heart beneath is teaching
to the broken heart above
O let the ehavens falter
and let the earth proclaim:
come healing of the Altar
come healing of the name
O longing of the branches
to lift the little bud
o longing of the arteries
to purify the blood
And let the heavens hear it
the penitential hymn
come healing of the spirit
come healing of the limb

Leonard Cohen and his band of angels

At last we see Leonard Cohen – a brilliant concert at the NEC in Birmingham. Jeanette and I both commented on his music being a strong thread through our lives.

Fantastic band of musicians, The audience was spell bound at the end by the singing of the “sublime” Webb Sisters (pictured above) singing “If it be your will”. Here it is – beautiful.

The concert led me to think of this all as a sign of heaven – I mean the band playing together, round one another, giving way to one another, respecting one another – producing harmony in spite of the underlying knowledge shared by LC that there is no such thing as “our perfect offering“.

And on the other hand, I am preparing for our “patronal festival” – church dedicated to St Andrew – and wonder why we use individuals so much as our “icons” of God, instead of community, band, group, family and Trinity. In that case, I wonder what communities (or what sort of communities)become the windows for seeing God’s love. Is it the local church, the communities of reconciliation? Is it the bands of artists who play together, the teams of scientists who work together and the local Christians who pray together?

How about this:

I am so often accused of gloominess and melancholy. And I think I’m probably the most cheerful man around. I don’t consider myself a pessimist at all. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel completely soaked to the skin. … I think those descriptions of me are quite inappropriate to the gravity of the predicament that faces us all. I’ve always been free from hope. It’s never been one of my great solaces. I feel that more and more we’re invited to make ourselves strong and cheerful. …. I think that it was Ben Johnson, I have studied all the theologies and all the philosophies, but cheerfulness keeps breaking through.

Leonard Cohen quoted in “The Joking Troubadour of Gloom” – Telegraph 26th April 1993