Jeffrey Smith on "A Silence More Musical Than Song"
Jeffrey Smith writes about silence in liturgy and music in the The Epistle of St. Paul's, K Street, Washington, D.C.
But in liturgy, silence is too often left uncultivated, even if the music itself soars. Effective preachers, like our own, are calculating in their use of silence. The space which borders spoken parts of the liturgy can be infused with a musical spirit; or— carelessly— can subvert the balanced oscillation of Music-Silence-Speech. Stillness before and after music is like a picture frame, without which our focus on the piece itself is somehow maladjusted. Silence is a practice to be cultivated corporately, before the liturgy begins and at appropriate points within the service. During Mass, the Fraction (where the celebrant breaks the bread) is followed by the only rubric in the BCP which actually mandates silence. It reads, “Silence is kept” as opposed to the more flexible, ‘may be kept’. The significance of the ritual breaking can be matched only with a profound stillness shared by all present. Less obviously, each of our hundreds of Collects is intended to gather up our individual unsaid prayers, and therefore we presume silence after the words, “Let us pray”.
Read the whole thing on page 8 of the October 2017 issue of The Epistle