The healing power of music
St Francis Xavier Church in Gardiner St, Dublin was one of the venues for a series of Advent concerts with Fr Liam Lawton, well-known singer/song writer whose music ministry has touched many people both here in Ireland and further afield. The concert took place on Monday 4 December at 8pm. It was sponsored by The Messenger magazine. All proceeds after expenses go to the Jesuit Mission, Assam, North India.
In this interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications he talks about this year’s Advent tour around Ireland. He says that society in general seems to have lost the sense and importance of Advent, celebrating Christmas with sales and spending long before the day arrives. Taking time out to listen to music, avoiding for a while the frantic and stressful aspects of this time of year, can help people to focus on what it is all about – a journey of the heart. He says music speaks directly to the heart and reaches us in a way that words alone cannot. It evokes memories and helps people transcend their everyday life. It has a capacity to heal and console during times of suffering, loss or mental distress.
Space and place is central to a Lawton concert. He wants to create a sense of community and comfort and does so not just with his songs but with appropriate venues for his concerts. He cites Gardiner St Church as a particularly beautiful setting. But lighting is important too, candle, colour, light and shade, all creates the appropriate atmosphere for depth experience, in his opinion.(See photo).
Liam will perform a mixture of Christmas hymns he composed himself along with a selection of traditional carols. “There’ll be songs new and old,” he says, “and context is crucial”, he notes. “For example, when I sing the Wexford Carol, which is one of a set of 16, I tell the story of how it was composed in the oral tradition in penal times. And I name the families who were given a carol each to preserve and pass on in times of persecution for their faith. When they hear it sung knowing this background it takes on a deeper resonance for them”
A full list of his concerts can be found on his website and also on his Facebook page. Some of his concerts around the country have already sold out so booking may be advisable in certain cases. Those who go should limber up their vocal chords as Liam takes great pleasure in having the audience join him in singing traditional Christmas carol favourites.