Updated: Oct 24, 2018
...the secret which pierces...
Since I was very young, music has been the most natural way to give expression to my deepest feelings. I suppose that’s why I became a musician. To let out what was inside. What was inside? All manner of things: awe at the presence of beauty in the world. Profound thanks. Also, a deep sense of yearning, the conviction that the world did not seem as it should. It was vicious, cruel, lonely, forsaken. And more, I had the unshakeable sense that, for all its beauty--and despite my gratitude--I wanted something that the world could not afford.
C.S. Lewis decribed this feeling as:“...the desire for our own far off country...the secret...which pierces...the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both...”“...Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter...But all this is a cheat...The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located...are not the thing itself; they are only...the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited...”
Eventually I discovered that longing--this satisfying dissatisfaction, this completing incompleteness that regularly finds expression in music--resonates with the biblical revelation of God. As Pascal famously put it: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
Over the centuries, Christians have been inspired by the Bible and their worship of the God who is Three in One and One in Three to create some of humanity’s greatest expressions of art. Poets, musicians and painters have left us with a vast deposit of work expressing the deepest longings of humanity made manifest in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the fruit of the Gospel, redemption that slays hubris even while anticipating glory.
“...the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18
Ironically, many churches that continue to celebrate the glorious Christian tradition no longer embrace the Gospel that inspired it. Likewise, most churches that still proclaim the Gospel have largely jettisoned the tradition. I believe that this wilful rejection of truth and beauty has had devastating consequences for the Church.
Reclaiming Beauty for the Gospel
The purpose of SOLAS:Vespers is to bring the Gospel and the Christian tradition back together again for the glory of God, the edification of the Church, and the furthering of Christ’s Kingdom. These evangelical worship services will not seek to recreate some imagined Golden Age of church history. They are, rather, more of a salvage operation: recovering the best of Christian worship from the whole of the Christian tradition, and artfully assembling it according to a Reformed Baptist theological perspective.
We will seek to engage our minds and our hearts in the worship of Jesus Christ through congregational singing, biblical preaching, and great works of art from the Christian tradition. We will unify our perspective by focusing on the five great Solas of the Reformation: sola scriptura (Scripture alone), sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), soli Deo gloria (to the glory of God alone).
SOLAS:Vespers is born out of the conviction that the God of the Bible is the God of all that is good, true and beautiful. Whether or not you agree with that conviction, I hope that you will consider joining us as we seek God with those who have gone before us: Bach, Mendelssohn, Corelli, as well as Donne, Pascal, Luther, Calvin, and many others who have carried the baton for the Gospel over many centuries!
Soli Deo Gloria!