March 12, 2013

This is the Credo. It’s by Arvo Pärt. It makes me happy.

(go have a listen.)


it’s been one of those days. everything’s a bit off-kilter, and when that’s combined with people-interaction, I begin picking at issues like my identity in relation to the impression I make on people. it’s never the most helpful kind of thinking, so I’ve learned to push it aside with an I never said I was anything but flawed or a fool, and let it go at that. Whatever. What you think about me isn’t my responsibility. And in many ways this kind of mental self-sufficiency is a blessing, although I find it does make me less open and more unwilling to be cared about and less willing to share. Achieving a kind of emotional distance as a defence will- well, distance you. But that’s to be expected. I’m not entirely sure what to think about it.


Credo. Arvo Pärt is one of my favourite composers, ever, and this is a section of his Berliner Messe. I’ve been listening to it for months on end without really paying too much attention to the words (they’re in Latin) and I assumed they were standard parts of the Mass and spent most of my time blithely enjoying the music (the soprano in this version is glorious. The rest of the pieces in the Messe are heartbreakingly, brokenheartedly beautiful, like a lot of Pärt’s work, so as a result- since this is one of his much rarer joyous-sounding pieces- it gets a lot more playtime in my day than other songs do). Occasionally I’d hear an invisibilium omnium or a Patrem omnipotentem or a few other things I recognised, and I grew very fond of the bit that went lumen de lumine, something-something-verum-something, but on the whole I wasn’t particularly aware of the actual meaning of what I was hearing. A lot of the time I don’t look up the lyrics to the music I play when I’m travelling.

And then yesterday, I was walking home from Carey in the late afternoon sunlight (I quite enjoy my late-afternoon walk home; the light is all slanting and golden and lovely) after two lectures, the first of which had involved the entire class standing up and reading aloud the Nicene Creed, together.* That’s the one that begins We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God…

And I flicked Credo on, and walking home in the dusty richness of that light, I heard Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium, et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei, unigenitum et ex Patre natum… deum de deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero

and I exploded a little with joy on the side of the road. It’s the Nicene Creed. I’ve been listening to the Nicene Creed this whole time. It turns out when I’m actually paying attention, I understand much more Latin than I generally give myself credit for; I just needed a frame of reference to connect-the-dots to. (The rest of the walk was punctuated with my hugely excited attempts at translating into English everything I was hearing, out loud, which may have startled passers-by a few times.) And sure, I should probably have figured it out earlier- Credo– creed, belief- but it was like a burst of sudden joy, realising what I’d been hearing all this time was this, this creed, and beautiful.


(it still makes me happy every time I listen to it. you should go listen to it, if you haven’t already. and now I really should do my readings.)




*We’ve been studying how the early church developed language for the doctrine of the Trinity, and in the middle of discussing the first version of the Nicene Creed (325AD), the lecturer was all, “Any Anglicans and Presbyterians here? You guys say this regularly. Baptists, on the other hand-” (and Carey Baptist College, funnily enough, is largely comprised of Baptists-) “-don’t say the Nicene Creed in church services. Why don’t we say the Nicene Creed in church services? Would it be too much to ask to do this once every few months? We don’t say this nearly enough. Let’s do it now. Stand up!”

One Response to “credo”

  1. […] This late-discovery business is not uncommon for me. I tend to get music I’m unfamiliar with by composers I enjoy, and then slowly work through the pieces over time, savouring and discovering as I go. There’s still one song I haven’t listened to yet on that exact same CD I bought over a year ago; I am taking my time here, ‘kay. In any case, I’m pretty sure I must’ve flicked over the lyrics to Lauridsen’s Les Chansons de Roses (there are five of them, a song cycle) at some stage early on, but I must’ve promptly forgotten because the translation of this came as a complete surprise to me. It reads thus: […]

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