Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Bliss Rediscovered

I remember the very first time I heard this.

It was three decades ago, and I was watching a PBS drama: John Le Carre's Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy. I wasn't impressed with the show at all -- it was just another of those murky, confusing spy stories with plants and double agents. I struggled through it, and resolved not to bother with it in the future.

As the show ended, I got up and started to walk to the kitchen for a snack. With my back turned, I heard . . . this. And I just stood there, unable to move, because the the simple sound of it sent shivers down my spine. I turned back and watched the closing credits of the show roll over a simple English dusk, and listened to a voice that seemed to call me to heaven.

In those days, before VCRs and Tivo, the only way I got to hear that voice again was by tuning into the show. I looked in vain for some note about the music, or the singer.

Apparently, I wasn't the only person so moved. Yesterday, three decades after I last heard this, I suddenly recalled that feeling. A simple Google search found it It was not the first time that an Internet search led to the discovery that other people have shared some inner experience that I thought was uniquely mine. The Youtube comments told me who the singer was - a Saint Paul's choirboy named Paul Phoenix. He was nine years old when he sang this!

It is an English hymn called Nunc Dimittas, and the words are from the Gospel of Luke:

Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace according to your word.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared before the face of all people,
a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.

For those that like it, you can buy it here

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