Centre for Music, Liturgy and the Arts established at Brougham Place   Mar 10, 2009

Dr Virgil Howard... told the story of when his wife died. They were young and had very small children...


Dr Virgil Howard, Professor of New Testament at Perkins School of Theology, was an exceptional teacher whose wisdom stretched well beyond the classroom. He told the story of when his wife died. They were young and had very small children. He was inconsolable. He knew he needed to have the strength to carry on and raise their children but he didn’t know where to turn. A friend gave him an album. It was all opera. He had never enjoyed opera, never really listened to it. But there in the lamenting tones, in the unsuppressed emotion of the music, Dr Howard was able to take solace. Music brought him healing when nothing else could.

The arts open us to that which is beyond us, they draw us in to examine the depths of our soul and send us out with new understanding. They enable us to express ideas, emotions and mysteries that surround us in a way that logical sentences often fail to capture. In the foreword to Michael Hawn’s book, One Bread, One Body, Justo Gonzalez expresses this eloquently writing, “What is true in everyday life is even truer in worship, for in worship we are by definition in the presence of mystery – and the experience of such presence can never be fully expressed in logical sentences.”

It is with this belief that the Centre for Music, Liturgy and the Arts was established. It seeks to respond to the needs of congregations to develop music and liturgy, provide opportunities to explore the arts and artistic expression and offer opportunities that challenge and enlighten us in, for and to worship.

The future for the Centre is still unfolding. It will be involved in providing educational focus events and also opportunities to sing, play, dance, write, act, read, and create together. One of the new plans of the Centre is to establish a choir and an instrumental group primarily for young adults. Many young adults played an instrument or sang in high school or in the church youth band but no longer have a forum in which to share their talents. We are seeking to provide a community where gifts, skills, faith and life can be shared together through artistic expression. 

Nancy Kehoe in her book, Wrestling with Our Inner Angels, shares the stories of people with mental illness. Andrea was one person whose story embraced the arts. Andrea shared with Kehoe, “Theatre allows us to look at realities through the mind’s eye of another. The arts allow us to have mirrors on ourselves and make us more human, more connected.” She writes, “… music is a lifeline, a way of connecting with others, of being in community of breaking down isolation…” 

The arts are a powerful way in which we engage with ourselves, others and the Divine Other – God. This is an exciting journey. To find out more about the Centre, the choir and instrumental group or ways how to support the Centre for Music, Liturgy and the Arts please contact Jennifer Hughes (phone: 8267 2657, email: jennifer@cmla.org.au)

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