Today’s modern culture presents so many things that are as ugly as sin, whether it be architecture, dress, music, culture, morals or other fields. This “cult of ugliness” targets God directly, who is beauty itself.
Everything beautiful in the world reflects an aspect of God, and everything ugly displays an aspect of the devil. Thus, one should love those beautiful things and hate all those that are ugly and sinister. Sometimes, a contrast of artistic works makes this easier to understand.
Handel’s Messiah is one example of something that reflects the beauty of God. This English-language oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel is one of the best-known choral works in Western music. The oratorio comprises three parts, and most lyrics are taken from the Scriptures.
Enthusiastic crowds everywhere attend this two-hour musical performance that stimulates reflection and wonder, so contrary to many modern works today.
The Hallelujah Chorus is incredibly grandiose and moving. As it begins, the audience rises to their feet immediately. This beautiful tradition started when England’s King George II was so moved during the chorus performance that he stood up. Audiences have stood ever since in honor of that moment.
The mixture of wonderful choruses, extraordinary soloists and amazing trumpet and organ combinations make the performance a memorable and beautiful experience. The soul flies closer to Heaven. It is beautiful.
Compare this to John Cage’s 4’33,” better known as “four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence.”
It is a three-movement composition composed in 1952 for any instrument or combination of instruments. The blank score instructs performers not to play instruments during the piece’s duration.
The piece was partially influenced by Zen Buddhism, which Cage studied and attracted him.
This piece represents the absence of beauty. There are no combinations of sounds. It is the opposite of what music should be. It does not induce reflection or wonder. The illogical piece drags the soul down. Musicians of excellence are forced to play absurd roles. It is ugly.
The contrast between Handel’s Messiah and John Cage’s 4’33” is a perfect example of the battle between beauty and ugliness, God and the devil. One must love and promote beautiful things like Handel’s Messiah and shun ugly and absurd things like John Cage’s 4’33.”
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