Hey everyone, Troisnyx here, back with a new track, hallowed silence!
I'd like to talk a fair bit about this thing, what led it to be written, and how it is close to my heart. This gets into some very weighty stuff. Please bear with me.
We've all joked about COVID-19, we've all made light of it in the face of pretty terrifying circumstances -- but we can't deny that because we know plenty of friends now thanks to the internet, we're going to know people who have been infected. We may even know people who might succumb to the illness and something like this doesn't bear thinking about. It's horrible.
We can't say anything apart from, "These are strange times." Although I hear ripplings of another phrase, "I hope this time brings about much-needed change. For the better."
And these words weigh on us heavily. We know that when we emerge from this situation -- whenever that may be -- things are not going to be the same ever again. Many of us will be left traumatised by what we'll have witnessed or heard. All the time spent cooped up is going to weigh heavily on us already. We're opening our eyes to the things that for years have been deemed impossible, but have been done at the drop of a hat due to the global pandemic: in the UK, the writing off of the debt of the NHS, and the rehousing of the homeless overnight, are two such examples.
These are sobering times. They are making us reflect, retreat, contemplate what sort of renewal we desperately need, as individuals and as a people.
This is Holy Week. Soon it'll be Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday... and these are the first sacred days that I, as a Christian -- as a Catholic -- will need to spend indoors, rather than in the church grounds soaking in the beauty of these days and celebrating with my friends. And there's the obvious reason of not wanting to infect people. That reason weighs heavily on me, as my beloved Seán is doubly immunocompromised due to his conditions. I need to protect him come what may, especially during these times.
I ask this now, in the face of a global pandemic -- but I'm sure this question has been asked by many a person in their bleakest situations: in the face of all this suffering, how do we hope? How do we make alleluias ring?
In doing this song, I feel I've discovered the answer: we don't. It is drawn from our lips like a beautiful sound made on the instrument closest to our hearts. This is especially the case when we ourselves don't have the strength to cough out the first couple syllables of an alleluia. This was what happened to me when this song was produced.
Not too long from the start of the lockdown, there was an Urbi et orbi message from Pope Francis. You've all seen the pictures: the old man in white, alone, in the rain, delivering this message as it is broadcast around the world, while around him, it is empty. Urbi et orbi means "to the city and to the world," and a message like this is normally reserved for the major feast days: Easter and Christmas. I watched the message with my Seán, and after the Pope delivered his message, there was a period of silent adoration. It was in this silence, that the words of the choruses came to me, stayed in my head, and would not depart from me.
O hallowed silence the world over!
No song of mine can ever add to your beauty,
O hallowed silence on the altar!
You are fitting melody,
you are fitting melody---
I have been going through a period of uncertainty and despair, two things very easily felt when made to be imprisoned all alone. (I'm not alone, I'm with my Seán, but being at home constantly instead of going out doing routine things gives more time for my emotions to stew, makes me more prone to ruminating.) In this despair, these words were drawn out of me. Then, as if drawn from my lips the way a rousing beat is drawn from a drummer's hands, the other lyrics and their respective melodies immediately followed suit.
I wrote the lyrics expressing my feelings, but also the feelings of people around me who are impacted in various ways by the pandemic. There are subtle references to the lockdowns (cf. cast aside in silent prisons of our own), and more blatant references to the sickness, death and decay all around us. There is a silence hovering over the land as a direct consequence of many of us not being able to go out except in limited circumstances. To me, that silence is sobering, painful, but not deafening. It is holy; it scours away at my own heart like fire burning away certain stains, or a strong abrasive.
The lyrics that were drawn from my lips ended in hope. They refused to end in despair.
What will my own life, and the lives of my loved ones, be like when we see the end of this pandemic?
For me, this song is a prayer, and I've heard many people dismiss prayers as mere nothings. Understandably, since the amount of people who have offered empty "thoughts and prayers" instead of being roused to action, whether on their own strength or by these same thoughts and prayers, is blindingly huge, over issues that should have been resolved ages ago.
When my time on this earth is over, I want to die knowing I did God's will on earth -- knowing that I did my damnedest to help those in need. It's hard, but I would much rather that than a half-arsed effort. This silence is making me think what I can do, at any given point in time. The world around me is not going to be the same ever again, but how? These words were a song, and I sang like I meant that song with every fibre of my being. It is calling me to live in that way, too, and to not give in to despair. It is screaming with all the emotion that would otherwise stop me from singing.