• Education Forums

Healing and Music

March 1, 2018

"You can't cry and sing at the same time."


I am a lifelong singer, beginning at the age of four in the church choir. Music was important in my family. My parents made sure that all four of us children had piano lessons, though it was a stretch to pay for them. Three of us took advantage of public school music programs to learn to play other instruments. When I was struggling in graduate school (the first time), singing in the Chapel Choir of the university was a grounding experience for me.


The fact that music was a significant part of the worship at Trinity, and indeed of the parish life as a whole, was one of the reasons I felt called to Trinity. Singing the hymns together, undergirded by the choir and a powerful organ, brings us together in a way that makes the liturgy both personal and communal. We are literally breathing together. The physicality of that breathing is part of the force that stops you from crying when you sing.


Music is one of God’s great gifts to us. And I believe it is part of God’s plan for our healing and wholeness. Some months after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, a music critic in New York City commented on the many commemorative performances and memorial events he had attended, noting the prevalence of classical music. He said it was as though the music was strong enough to connect us to our ancestors and to bear the emotional weight of grief and loss.


It is in this vein that I am happy that the Longwood Symphony Orchestra has chosen to honor Partakers/College Behind Bars at their upcoming concert on March 10. The orchestra is composed of medical professionals who are highly skilled amateur musicians. At each of their concerts, they choose an organization to spotlight. Previously, these have been only medical organizations and nonprofits. By choosing to support Partakers/College Behind Bars, they are recognizing the healing work being done by this program of mentorship for incarcerated persons. 


Over 50 Trinity parishioners have volunteered through College Behind Bars and have developed life-changing relationships with persons who are continuing their education in highly restricted environments. Many parishioners believe that they receive more than they give in these mutually supportive encounters. Helping someone who may never get out of prison find liberation of spirit and mind through education is a powerful experience. Healing indeed.


So, if you would like to enjoy the healing power of Beethoven’s music and lend your support to College Behind Bars, consider coming to Jordan Hall on March 10. I am looking forward to the concert and glad to be supporting an important ministry of social justice.


Faithfully and fondly,

The Reverend Rainey Dankel

Associate Rector


At "Educational Forums," enrich your spiritual journey by exploring our resources including videos of lectures, essays by priests, and other pieces about our faith, our church, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in the 21st century.