St Cecilia’s Day

November 22nd is St Cecilia’s Day. Nothing of her story bears repeating, but through it she became the patron saint of musicians. And maybe there is more in that story of a feisty Roman girl that we could find if we cleaned up all the sexual politics and grisly death.

St Cecilia Playing the Harpsichord by Guercino

In any case, Handel used this day to present one of his most beautiful works: Ode for St Cecilia’s Day. It is more of an oratorio than a short ode, with a libretto based on a poem by John Dryden. The work is centered on the Pythagorean theorem of harmonia mundi — that music is the central force in creation.

I’m not sure there are central forces and I don’t like to impose mine on others. But I do live my life centered on harmony. And there does seem like there is something that tends toward accord in the universe. For no reason at all, we exist. There is balance. There is beauty. There is music. Call that what you will, but I think Pythagoras is as accurate as any.

©Elizabeth Anker 2021