Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Michael and All Angels

Today is Michael and All Angels, not a particularly significant festival in the Baptist calendar, but since reading today's scriptures from the lectionary it's sort of got under my skin.

I browsed an excellent book written by my friends Robert and Ro Willoughby, 'Angels: a journey of exploration for individuals, small groups or churches'. This is a really creative resource, which is no surprise if you know Robert and Ro. I then turned to Bob Hartman's wonderful 'Easter Angels' with gorgeous illustrations by Tim Jonke. This is a children's book, but is loved by children of all ages, and one that moves me every Easter Sunday when I read it, normally out loud to anyone who's at home. I'm not sure that it's available any longer but his 'Angels, Angels, All Around' is.

I went to my iTunes and typed in 'angel', but this included a huge amount of Angela Hewitt and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, so I tried 'angels', which was more manageable. I've played Mark Padmore, singing 'Waft her, angels' from Handel's Jeptha - sublime - followed by Robbie Williams, 'Angels' - another stunning performer though of a different kind. Then 'Go, in the name of Angels' from Elgar's 'Dream of Gerontius'. Also, John Harle's 'Air and Angels', although I haven't got round to Rautavarra's 'Angels and Visitations', a substantial and appropriately awesome piece. The other notable inclusion is a jazz album 'Angel of the Presence'.

When it comes to art, where do you begin? You either love or hate Anthony Gormley's 'The Angel of the North' and I love it, but two years ago there was an exhibition of his work at the Hayward Gallery, called 'Blinding Light'. It incorporated figures all over central London as viewed from the Hayward Gallery, and for me they took the form of sentinels or angelic beings, and I found them striking and stirring.

I've never encountered an angel wittingly, although I know some who have. Angels remain a mystery which I guess is what makes them so fascinating. Certainly they've inspired an incredible amount of art of different forms. Oh well, down to earth with a bump - I'm off to a Church Meeting!

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