"Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen" - My Experience and the Video
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
For a number of years, singing sacred choral music was my main spiritual practice - I loved singing in church and college choirs. Rehearsing and performing the beautiful melodies and harmonies of masterworks such as Handel's Messiah and Bach's chorales nourished my heart and spirit, drawing me into a joyful, radiant space inside my being.
Last night, Marjorie showed me the trailer for a documentary titled Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen. After just a few minutes of listening to his piece Sure On This Shining Night, my eyes began to tear up as the song's astonishing harmonies and radiance lifted me into a place of joy and light. I'm not speaking metaphorically - my heart and mind went somewhere. I felt like I was hearing harmonies and chords that came from a place beyond this world, and that they transported me to that beautiful place.
When we watched the full documentary this morning, the same thing happened to me as portions of the Sure On This Shining Night were performed by different choirs around the globe - my heart was enchanted by the harmonies and radiance of this piece and it was difficult for me to speak. I began to wonder what it is that creates this kind of response in me and the many other people who say that sacred choral music also affects them on a profound level. I think the most we can say is that it's a mystery, in the highest sense - something very close to mysticism.
We learned that Lauridsen deliberately crafted this piece so that good amateur choirs could perform it, even with its extraordinary harmonies, and that it has been performed by countless choirs around the world. So many people speak about it the way I've tried to - when they sing it or listen to it, they experience something extraordinary that they can't put into words.
The full documentary itself is on Vimeo, where you can rent or buy it.
You can listen to his song, Sure On This Shining Night, below.
May you have your own beautiful experience of this music!