Host Phil Cousineau states that music has been called "the doorway to the soul." All the wisdom traditions have kept a special place for making music and singing since these activities create community and take us to places that words cannot.

This installment of Global Spirit explores the many different dimensions of sacred music with guests Joanne Shenandoah, a Grammy-award-winning singer and member of the Native American Onondaga tribe, and the Rev. Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and author of many books on the Christian faith. She sings two beautiful songs accompanied by her daughter, and there are two liturgical musical performances by the Grace Cathedral Choir. Also included is a seven-minute clip from Peter Brook's film Meetings With Remarkable Men to illustrate the way sound and silence fit together as indicators of the presence of spirit.

Jones talks about how music can affirm and lift up many qualities that are not prized as top virtues in our society such as beauty, transcendence, community, healing of the heart, imagination, and being present. Joanne Shenandoah explains how her tribe has songs for each and every stage and experience in life. Songs weave life experiences together and they are powerful parts of a variety of ceremonies. She shares what happens to her when she sings or composes songs and the various ways in which sacred music is indeed a universal language of spiritual yearning, hope, and love.

To Continue This Journey:

  • Explore your own views of sacred music. Name your three favorite spiritual singers or musicians. In what ways do you rely upon sacred music as a spur to inner peace, living in the present moment, being grateful, honoring beauty, and being transported into ecstasy? What is the role of sacred music in your religious community? What is your attitude toward silence and the spiritual gifts it can give to you?