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In February, scientists reported evidence of gravitational waves – the result of an ancient collision of two black holes – and they sound like … wait for it … a human heartbeat. One of the biggest break-throughs in scientific enquiry has a sound. And it sounds like us! One more resonant witness to the truth that everything is connected and everything belongs in God’s astounding creation. What is amazing to me is that the scientists’ equipment (the LIGO detector) which records visual images of the waves, can be easily translated into sounds. In their news conference, one of the female researchers said, “That’s one of the beautiful things about this [detection]. “We are not only going to be seeing the universe — we are going to be listening to it.”

Ethereal choral music always gives me the impression that somehow sound changes the universe in more ways than we can ever know … something like the discovery of gravitational waves. Listening, seeing, feeling, and discovering all become wrapped up in the music. And the music transports you to another dimension.

Last week I introduced you to a Finnish composer, this week a Norwegian-born, American trained, choral composer, Ola Gjeilo (Yay-lo). This playlist features the wonderful choir of Central Washington University, where Gjeilo has spent two sessions in residence. The works and the performances open spaces where light is revealed and reflected and where sound resonates out into the glorious, mysterious, still-undiscovered universe.

Listen for Light playlist on YouTube.

I have included two versions of Gjeilo’s setting of the latin hymn Ubi Caritas. The second includes the composer improvising (on piano) during the performance. The text of the work is below:

WHERE charity and love are, God is there. Christ’s love has gathered us into one. Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him. Let us fear, and let us love the living God. And may we love each other with a sincere heart.

WHERE charity and love are, God is there. As we are gathered into one body, Beware, lest we be divided in mind. Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease, And may Christ our God be in our midst.

WHERE charity and love are, God is there. And may we with the saints also, See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God: The joy that is immense and good, Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.