The Trinity, mystery of our faith, in music and in art

The Trinity is indeed the great mystery of our faith. As a musician, I find that a reflection which is useful to me and which stimulates me through prayer is given by Saint Ignatius Loyola who “saw” the Trinity during a time of prayer like three music keys.

This view was supported by Michael Peppard, associate professor of early Christian studies, religion and public life at Fordham University in New York, who asserted that the “musical triad, is an appropriate figure for the Trinity. . It embodies distinction in unity and dynamism. Unchangeability. “When played together, the three notes (eg C, E and G) can be clearly identified separately. This simple concept can be demonstrated in many tunes: The first four notes of the song “Morning Has Broken” are perhaps the most familiar to people of all ages.

The three keys of Ignatius also illustrate the effect that the will to listen to oneself and to avoid any desire to dominate – gives to any performance. It is also a good guide to developing and maintaining good friendships!

Another depiction of an image of the Trinity through music is presented by Jeremy Begbie, of Duke University, North Carolina, an ordained minister of the Church of England and a professional musician. In a series of lectures, Begbie established many facets of the connection between the Trinity and music, which develops and extends the image of Ignatius’ musical triad and expresses it in a more technical way, comparing the way we let’s see things and the way we mean things in a very scientific way.

Another musician worth mentioning is Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906). She had great devotion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and in many ways her life resembled that of Thérèse, especially her simple faith and her commitment to bringing souls to Jesus. Although best known as a mystical and spiritual writer, she was a talented pianist, and several photos show her at the piano. She also converted her prayer “O my God, Trinity whom I adore” into music. She is the most recent of the Carmelites to have been canonized. After Pope Francis’ approval, the canonization took place at a gathering of cardinals on June 20, 2016.

Music has always been part of my life. My mom and dad were both musicians and encouraged me in singing and violin. Whatever mood I want to express, I can do it with a hymn or song – I can always find the right lyrics. As the Christmas season approached, I was particularly moved by Handel’s “Messiah”. I have had the privilege of singing this inspired music several times in the Sydney and Melbourne Cathedrals and at the Sydney Opera House. From the dramatic effect of the angel’s gentle announcement to the shepherds followed by the “Glory to God” of the multitude of the heavenly host, the message His yoke is easy to complete the first part and a short interval to prepare for the Passion segment: He was despised … a man of sorrow and knowing sorrowthe Lord has put on him the iniquity of us all.

From there, the anticipation slowly rises to the hallelujah choir. I learned this from memory so that I could watch the conductor and enjoy the atmosphere – the still audience – (the one time that happens at any show) and everyone on stage singing and playing with full enthusiasm. It’s so exciting! But there is still a special message to be said – just as Jesus rose from the dead, we and the final choir amen with more fortissimo, then huge applause and many curtain calls.

Handel only took 24 days to compose the whole oratorio, sometimes without sleeping or eating. I try to imagine him at his desk day and night with inspiration pouring in – and it has helped me both at prayer time and singing time.

The Trinity has also been a popular subject in art. Among the many paintings of the Trinity, one of them is that of the Florentine artist Tommaso Masaccio (1401-1428) who revolutionized the art of painting and was the first to understand and use the ” magic of illusion ”and the scientific perspective to transform Gothic iconography towards a realistic naturalism.

These techniques were particularly evident in his fresco, “The Trinity”, painted in 1425.

Masaccio died at the age of 28, an extraordinarily gifted young artist who painted only a few other important works in his short life.

For me the most fascinating aspect of “The Trinity” is that for the viewer the fresco appears to have been painted in an alcove, but it is all actually on a wall of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, a Dominican church. in Florence.

God the Father has very human features and the Spirit is portrayed as a little white dove. Using the shortcut, Jesus appears to be standing on a wooden bench. The three are grouped together, suggesting a close connection. The figure on the left is Mary depicted as a mature woman; she makes a gesture towards her son; on the right, Saint John the Evangelist. On a lower level, two donors who have supported Masaccio look straight ahead, in prayer.

Basically, Masaccio painted a very realistic sarcophagus, with a skeleton on the lid and an epitaph: “I was once what you are now and what I am now you will be too.” This is very confronting but connects with the “dry bones” story of Ezekiel 37 and his promise of resurrection in verses 5 and 6:

This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will bring the breath into you and you will come to life.
I will tie sinews to you and I will bring flesh on you and cover you with skin;
I will breathe life into you and you will come back to life.
Then you will know that I am the Lord.

Masaccio leads us to face both our mortality and our immortality and reminds us that

“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord ”(Romans 14: 8).

In his homily on Trinity Sunday 2020, Pope Francis described the work of the Trinity as “the action of the three divine Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit -” saving love for a broken world “.”

Lyrics, music, art – the representation may be different but the message is the same.


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