Harmony and Healing

 

God of harmony,/Your song for us is peace./Come with healing music,/Embrace us with your love.”

David Stewart

 

I have never been to an event quite like this in Northern Ireland as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’i and Buddhists gathered together to celebrate the role of music in their faith.  Harmony and Healing in association with The Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum was a beautiful mix of music and engagement between faith groups. Ed Petersen from Clonard Monastery wove the night together and the tone was set early on as Jubilate Chamber Choir, conducted by David Stewart sang Ubi Caritas and Psalm 23.

Next up was Chaim Moscovitch, the former Cantor from Belfast Synagogue who now teaches in England. As well as giving us the beautiful Hebrew chants of Psalm 104 and 23 he also spoke about the work he does with children where they learn how to create Biblical Scrolls using the ancient techniques. He showed us a scroll with the Exodus story on it that the children had made last week and talked of the delight of using the ancient in the modern setting. Tamer Khalil and Hesham Mohammad talked about the structure of the Qur’an and how the recitation is practiced. In such a time as this to hear a beautiful melodious recitation of the call to prayer was an act of healing in itself.

Members of the Baha’i community explained the role of music in their practice and sang a number of different songs including one set to the ancient Irish tune also used for My Lagan Love.Paul Fitzsimmons and Rachel McCarthy shared some of the Shakyamuni Buddha’s Lotus Sutra building up into a powerful recitation of the phrase Nam Myoho Renge Kyo which literally filled the hall with power and filled the audience with awe. Nirmal Munir from the 4 Corners organising committee shared 2 poems of unity she had written.

 

Norman Richardson from the Northern Ireland Interfaith forum concluded the evening with some thoughts on the relationship between music and faith and his belief that music is part of the divine plan. For the 180 people in the hall it was a moving night and in a time of fear, Trump and Brexit a strong symbol of unity of humanity – of the image of God that is in everyone.

Committee Member Jim Deeds was blown away by the event and wrote this reflection.

We cannot create harmony if we all sing the same note.

Tonight, we had an inter-faith evening of musical harmony. Contributions from Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’i, Jews and Christians held a packed hall spell bound. I looked around the room as I listened to all these different types of music (all expressions of the participants’ faith) and saw people of different skin colour and faith, wearing different traditional and modern clothing. And all were listening. Sitting together and listening. Smiling and sitting together and listening. Respecting each other and smiling and sitting together and listening.

Different notes- musically and otherwise- tonight created great harmony. This was awesome!

Our Muslim friends tonight sang, ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is great. Nirmal Munir read a poem telling us that beneath our bodies, lie souls without differential identity- we are one.

I agree. God IS great, we ARE one.

Santosh Chowdery from our Hindu community playing his tabla. Just a flavour of what we saw and heard tonight.