Home > Classical Music, Music, Reflection > Sacred Music – Ethereal and Sublime

Sacred Music – Ethereal and Sublime

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments



I just returned from another visit to Victoria’s blog, whereupon I was intrigued by this week’s Monday Morning Writing Prompt topic of Sacred Music.  Last week was quite extraordinary for me, two funerals and a wedding.  There was no shortage of Sacred Music to be heard and felt as a result.  This particular writing prompt captured my imagination, as I have been surrounded by music all my life, and I easily resonate with its raw beauty and power to transport my mind to another plane.


The word sacred evokes the notion of reverence, devotion, or veneration with regard to a higher order of a religious or spiritual nature.  For today’s prompt and reflection that follows, I selected two musical pieces that some may consider to be deeply religious in nature.  I am not, however, a particularly religious person although I do consider myself spiritual.  These musical pieces are excellent examples of what some call prayer, or others meditation; a conversation of a simple creature seeking and reaching out to some higher order power in a uniquely personal and private moment of serenity, tranquility, and beauty.  Inspirational, ethereal, and sublime.


I cannot simply put the musical pieces up without a set-up;  I am after all a musical geek.  Both pieces are commonly known as the Ave Maria.  First is my absolute favorite version, written by Charles Gounod in 1859 as a melody superimposed over J.S. Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C Major written in 1722.  The lyric is the Hail Mary prayer in Latin.

Ave Maria – C. Gounod (1859) sung by Jessye Norman



The second selection, also a personal favorite,  is commonly known as the Ave Maria, however it is actually Ellens dritter Gesang (Ellen’s Third Song), written by Franz Schubert in 1825.  The song was part of a seven song Opus, a German translation of Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake epic poem.  The original lyrics of the song begin with Ellen praying to the Virgin Mary to protect her and her father from harm as they hid in exile in caves near Lake Katrine from their enemies.

Ellens dritter Gesang (Ave Maria) – F. Schubert (1825) sung by Barbara Bonney



I can be an incredibly long-winded person, almost never at a loss for words, but as I close my eyes to listen and reflect upon this sacred music, I am moved and filled with a simple thought:


Life is beautiful.



  1. November 15, 2011 at 4:53 am

    You are doing this deliberately, aren’t you, Phil: Posting divine music when my sound system is down? That, it appears, was the trade off when I got the comp repaired. What with my vision down, now mute, soon I will be able to add dumb, done and dusted to my portfolio.

    However, no fear: Both those pieces of music firmly anchored in my brain. Ah, the joys of memory.

    Thanks. Needed that.. And yes, life is beautiful; even when climbing a fence and tearing your petticoat.


    • November 15, 2011 at 8:07 am

      Ah! The divine does have a sense of humor. Most are too afraid to laugh however. Not you, thankfully.

      The rips and tears in the petticoats of life indicate one well traveled, like a well-worn piece of luggage with markers of so many places visited on the journey. Wear those tears proudly, Ursula.

  2. Androgoth
    November 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I have enjoyed reading your words on this fine theme
    and on the morrow I will return and listen to both of these
    videos, I am sure that too will enjoy them and thank you
    for offering just a glimpse into your world of music 🙂

    Be very well my wickedly fine friend 🙂


    • November 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

      It is said that music can soothe the savage beast. I’m not sure if it will work on some of those beasts in your Gothic realm, but at least you can escape here for a brief respite.

      As always, good to see you here.

      • Androgoth
        November 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm

        Thank you Phil, the music helps… a little but those
        Zombie critters are always up to no good you know? 🙂
        I will be back as soon as I have added some strong
        chains, I think they are after some of that Horny Goat
        Weed 🙂 lol Have a great evening now 🙂


  3. November 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Schubert’s is my favorite, too. I accidently had both of them playing at the same time towards the end and it produced an interesting (not conflicting) mix. Thanks for sharing this Phil.

    • November 16, 2011 at 8:44 am

      Interesting idea to blend the two. Thank you Victoria for prompting me into another post. I had fun doing this, as always.

  4. November 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    My goodness, two funerals and a wedding in one week? Hmph…I can see how you’d come to a place of rely on your music to bring you to a good place with it all. Interesting how we come to rely on it and the power it has to shake down them blues and find that place of peace, making it alright.

    • November 16, 2011 at 8:47 am

      I’ve been blessed with the ability to self-soothe, and music has been my prescription.

      Totsy, after two straight posts with classical music, I may need to switch to another kind quickly, before all my visitors fall fast asleep on the sofa.

      • November 16, 2011 at 6:24 pm

        You have a variety of music you post here. It’s that time of year again though. Good ole Xmas music, for those who go for it.

        • November 17, 2011 at 8:16 am

          I just don’t know about that Totsy. It isn’t even Thanksgiving, so it might be a tad early to start with the Christmas songs. I am not like those department stores that have Christmas displays out just after Labor Day… By the time Christmas arrives, folks might actually be agitated by listening to carols 24/7 for weeks. I do think I’ll post some of my favorite Christmas music a few days before.

  5. November 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I would characterize you as spiritual, Phil. How can you not be in touch with your soul when you pick such moving pieces of music to share with us? Just an innocent observation…;)

    • November 17, 2011 at 8:05 am

      Lorna, of all the senses we each possess, I’ve always connected most easily with the aural sense. I love music – it has a direct line to the soul.

  6. November 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Hello Phil great soothing music dropping by to wish you a great wednesday and sending angel blessings your way

    Hugs Tricia !!

    • November 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

      Hi Tricia. Thank you for being such an angel and leaving your blessings.

  7. November 16, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    why do you want to make me CRY?

    This music is like a million prayers… Heavenly.


    • November 17, 2011 at 8:12 am


      I wasn’t trying to make you cry, although the fact that you are able to be moved to tears is evidence of a deeply sensitive and sensual soul that lives inside you.

      I like to think of it as a very Italianesque trait we possess. We can be tough as nails, we can laugh heartily, we cry easily, and in everything we do, we live LOUDLY.

      All the best to you Kim.

  8. November 17, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Sigh… Ave Maria must be one of the most sublime songs ever! Gorgeous.

    • November 18, 2011 at 9:08 am

      Thank you. I do not know why, perhaps it is deeply ingrained from childhood, but this kind of music just sweetly and gently carries me to a good place.

  9. November 18, 2011 at 1:36 am

    I love Ave Maria. I’ve reuqested my operatic friend to sing it at my funeral.
    Nice slection of songs …. well done.

    • November 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

      As an Opera fan, I absolutely adore the human voice as a musical instrument. Here’s hoping your request will not be fulfilled for a very, very, very long time…

  10. November 18, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Hi Phil,
    It’s a beautiful song, and now I’m happy to learn the background of it.
    I’m sorry you had 2 funerals to attend last week.
    Hope you have a great day. Hugs, Nikki

    • November 20, 2011 at 7:42 am

      Thank you Nikki. The wedding and news of my niece having a baby girl offsets the funerals and it hopefully reminds me that there’s much living to do before we take that long sleep. It’s been a crazy busy weekend here, but I’m glad I peeked in to see who visited. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. November 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Ave Maria is one of the beautiful songs. It always gives me the chills, when I listen to it. Tough week for you Phil, sorry!

    • November 20, 2011 at 7:45 am

      Thank you Ariana. As I mentioned to Nikki above, a birth of a baby girl and a wedding provided an example of the circle of life, so the week was not completely depressing. Much living to do, and of course, at this time of the year, much raking of fallen leaves…

  12. jennygoth
    November 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    i cannot listen to ava maria its too chilling for me funny how some or most maybe find it peaceful and beautiful i find it spooky and chilling like being in a mortuary or some place like it but i can listen to ozzy osbournes mamma im coming home and feel love and warmth even though hes a rock singer am i weird do you think ? maybe just different have a lovely weekend phil xxjen

    • November 20, 2011 at 7:48 am

      I can understand Jen. Music affects us in different ways and brings us to different places. I rather like Ozzy and some of his more haunting material. I do not think you are weird, or at least any more weird than we all are. The world would be a rather boring place without our uniqueness, so rock on Jen!

  13. November 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I think it’s a mood thing for me or maybe association. I understand how Jen feels. There are times Ava Maria can creep me out, but other times, I’m fine with it and actually enjoy it. I do think it is an excellent selection for the prompt.

    Enjoy what is left of your weekend.

    • November 20, 2011 at 7:55 am

      I do understand the association that music has. It very much can be a marker of mood and feelings. As the French say, “Vive la différence!” It makes for a far more interesting world. I appreciate your comments and thank you for stopping by. I will enjoy what is left of my weekend, and I hope you enjoy yours too.

  14. November 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    You’ve given me the gift of music today. Thank you so much for sharing them.

    • November 29, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Lafemme. You are quite welcome.

  15. Soul
    November 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Hello Phil,
    nice post with image and music.
    Have a good start week.

    • November 29, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      Thank you for the compliments, Soul. I hope you have a great week as well.

  16. November 21, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Classical Music is Not Dead and commented:
    I saw this post and was immediately reminded of this performance:

    • November 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Jessye Norman is a treasure. Such a sublime sound to that magnificent voice with an incredible range. She has a lovely voice in all the registers of her range. Nice selection! I’m glad to see a young woman like yourself picking up the torch and carrying it for classical music!

  17. mysterycoach
    December 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I saw you over by LaFemme’s blog and came over. This is breathtaking. I like listening to music with my eyes closed and absorbing it as well. 🙂 Nice to meet you.

    • December 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Nice to meet you too.

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