It is a warm and humid Sunday morning in northern Virginia. Alexandria is still quiet, though the men and women in their Sunday finery are slowly making their way to church. Navy blue is the color of baptismal robes here; a bold tie, the anointing of the Spirit. The holyman's vestment is a grey suit.
This visit to Virginia has had a more measured effect upon me than last year's. I am no less enthusiastic to return home. I am, however, simply more aware of the need for patience in this. There is little I can control. As my brother said, in the end, I will have to go where the work is. This is true. And yet, I still have dreams of being at work no matter where I am. I may be a fool. But I still see myself here.
I have made an idol of the hills. Alas.
The latest and perhaps more sane thought has been around Smithsonian Folkways and the collection of religious musics that came to the fore through their collection. Some of it has been sampled by artists such as Moby or Enigma. They are, of course, just two of scores of artists who have borrowed sounds from the collection. The economic ethics of the practice has been a subject of much analysis over the years. Heavily criticized, I think it is worth exploring again. This time it is to gain a greater understanding of how such sounds have been deemed "authentic" and how musicians have utilized them in worship settings to craft an "authentic" experience of God.
After a century of transmission, have these musics become a new canon to which church music professionals are responsible?
I would love to spend three summers here in order to find out.