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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, November 13, 2003
    John Coltrane - pure praise
    Sometimes life throws out wonderful surprises. There's Mark, in his own words a "card-carrying evangelical", vicar in a church where THE WORD is all. It's his turn to share some text, some reflection, with his colleagues in our Clergy Chapter meeting. What wonder, then, when he tosses aside the worthy-but-dull book on church growth statistics he's been studying of late, moves over to the cd player and puts on something radically unexpected and deeply moving - John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. Mark's been living with this music for a while, he says; tells us it's affected him deeply.

    No blog would do justice to the moments we then shared around Coltrane's modal jazz brilliance. Mark introduced it as an expression of Coltrane's spiritual searching, a piece of music which begins tentatively, choppily, to some perhaps chaotically, but gradually builds into a meditative pattern at whose climax the words come in: "A love supreme, a love supreme, a love supreme..." It's pure praise, and after it had faded, Mark read an extract from Coltrane's liner notes to us as a psalm:
      ... He is gracious and merciful... Thank you God.
      Glory to God... God is so alive.
      God is.
      God loves.

      May I be acceptable in Thy sight.

      We are all one in His grace.
      The fact that we do exist is acknowledgement
      of Thee, O Lord.
      Thank you God.

      God will wash away all our tears...
      He always has...
      He always will.

      Seek him everyday. In all ways seek God everyday.
      Let us sing all songs to God.
      To whom all praise is due... praise God. ...