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June 2023

School of Music Journal

Sharing The Light

Universal Languages

Walls, fences, barricades, borders, societal differences, political differences, religious differences, and generational gaps all represent various forms of barriers that separate the more than 8 billion people currently living on the earth. There are many, many more kinds of barriers that we allow to separate us and prohibit us from living peacefully and contributively with each other. It is a sad state of affairs to be sure.

However, despite the division and separation prevalent throughout the world, there are a few constants that have been heralded for centuries as being “universal languages” that can transcend all differences and barriers. The idea that love is a universal language goes without saying. Nearly every person has felt the love of another that leapt across a language difference or a geographical separation or a generation gap. The second constant was stated clearly and succinctly by the highly regarded and much-read 19th century American writer and educator, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, when he said: “Music is the universal language of mankind.” A group of Harvard scientists recently completed a study that fully supports this assertion.

There is a third constant, much more powerful than either of the first two mentioned, that frequently works hand-in-hand with these. When such a “linguistic collaboration” occurs, the effect is magnified and amplified, and the result is often extraordinarily powerful. This third constant is the Holy Spirit who also communicates through a universal medium and has absolutely no barriers or barricades, save those placed by an individual in such a way as to prohibit the conveyance of the communication.

These three constants each individually carry with them a degree of light that is shared with others. When two or more of these light-wielding languages combine, the light shines much more brilliantly.

This issue of the School of Music Journal highlights ensembles and individual students, faculty, and alumni who have ventured across borders and beyond cultural differences to share light. In many instances, all three light-wielding universal languages have been combined and the vehicle of their music has truly touched lives and brought people closer to God.

May we all seek to do the same in all we do.

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