Friday, May 31, 2013

Bathed in Music

One of the last things we did in Paris was one of the things that will remain for the longest in my memory.

We went to hear an organ concert at the Church of St. Eustache. (Interesting note: The church was named after a Roman general. He and his family were burned after converting to Christianity. I’d love to find out more about that story—can you imagine that happening to a Roman general?!)

The organ at St. Eustache is the largest in France—8,000 pipes. And the church is enormous, not quite the size of Notre Dame, but big and very tall. I must admit that I’m a little partial to organ music because my grandfather was an organist, a very good one who played the organ in a huge stone church in the Netherlands.

In any case, the massive stone church is an important part of the beauty. Organs were meant to be heard in that context. Everything else is a shadow as similar as a lamp is to the sun. Imagine it’s dark outside, the rain is falling, and the church is lit by hundreds of candles. Then the music begins. In a huge stone church, the sound is captured. It bounces off the walls, echoing back and forth as more music comes from the pipes. And the listener is bathed in music—it’s around you and under you and in you. It almost seems to have no source, it just exists.

When the bass pipes grumble, it's like giant redwoods are humming. And when the pipes in the upper registers sing, it’s as if butterflies have been given a voice. Somehow in the transcendence that is organ music, the mute speak.

Here are some of the 8000 pipes.

Sadly, this is foreshortened, so you don't get a sense of the size. But you can see what the candles were like.

Cal during the concert. I have no idea why the windows look so bright--it was dark outside.

Me after the concert.

If you want to find out about Screwing Up Time book swag, click here.


  1. Wow! That must have been absolutely amazing! And you did such an awesome job of describing it, too. (Have you ever considered writing a book...?)

    I wonder if Youtube has any videos taken inside that church? I reckon I'm gonna have to look.

  2. So beautiful! And your description of the music was beautiful too!