About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark is the Director of Music of the Archdiocese of Boston and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. His compositions have been performed worldwide.
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“The plea that the laity as a body do not want liturgical change, whether in rite or in language, is, I submit, quite beside the point. … (it is) not a question of what people want; it is a question of what is good for them.”
— Dom Gregory A. Murray (14 March 1964)

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On Emptiness, Wisdom, and Fortune • Music and Discernment
published 1 July 2017 by Richard J. Clark

USIC HAS A way of revisiting the soul when necessary. It seems as though time is not always linear, but elastic. Such is the transcendent effect music has upon us all.

Recent days have brought a choral work composed a few years ago back to consciousness. I believe it is brought upon by the struggle of friends in dire need coupled with a sense of gratitude for my God.

Perhaps it is a sense of discernment—a most sacred duty. What does God call us to do? Or rather, how does God call us to be? The obsession to find things to do often eclipse God’s call for us to be, in His presence—in prayer—in quiet solitude with Him, but for a moment or more.

On Emptiness, Wisdom, and Fortune (2014) combines two poems by Adam Wood: On Fortune and On Emptiness. Through gradual harmonic expansion of modes and mindset, internal reflection leads to eternal resolution.

I find the text of this work to be a useful call to discernment as outlined in the first stanza:

I trust, O God, your Wisdom to fulfill
All needs I have, yet beg for blessings too.
But if you take all else, take first my will,
That I may know that all I need is You.

I have long admired the writing of poet Adam Wood (b. 1982); his poetry, prose, and commentary are distinct, stemming in part from eclectic passions which include liturgy, theology, technology, economics and the Open Source. The results of such combination of interests are fascinating. His dedication to the spirit, art, and intellect (often infused with sharp wit) constitute a distinctly unique body of work from which one will elicit much inspiration and insight.

Here is a recording of the world premiere by The Seraphim Singers, Jennifer Lester, Director.

On Emptiness, Wisdom and Fortune
Adam Wood

I trust, O God, your Wisdom to fulfill
All needs I have, yet beg for blessings too.
But if you take all else, take first my will,
That I may know that all I need is You.

“Nay, chiefly are we born to die,
it matters not” he says, and I,
though tempted, and like sailors drawn,
to siren calls that bid them on,

I stay. Transfix’d by word,
so often read, so often heard,
my soul (must then it empty be?)
redoubles and re-sounds the sounds of Thee.

If emptiness be then my one defense
against seduction’s war on every sense,
remove from me, oh God, what fills my mind
that resonances there your Word may find.

And if my soul be empty, so my heart,
That it may sing the music of your Art.
My will, my life, my all be emptied too:
Libations poured out — nay, drawn out by You.