What Do I Love When I Love My God?
WHAT DO I LOVE WHEN I LOVE MY GOD?
What is it then that I love when I love you? Not bodily beauty, and not temporal glory, not the clear shining light, lovely as it is to our eyes, not the sweet melodies of many-moded songs, not the soft smell of flowers and ointments and perfumes, not manna and honey, not limbs made for the body’s embrace, not these do I love when I love my God.
Yet I do love a certain light, a certain voice, a certain odor, a certain food, a certain embrace when I love my God: a light, a voice, an odor, a food, an embrace for the man within me, where his light, which no embrace can contain, floods into my soul; where he utters words that time does not speed away; where he sends forth an aroma that no wind can scatter; where he provides food that no eating can lessen; where he so clings that satiety does not sunder us. This is what I love when I love my God.
—Augustine of Hippo (354-430) from THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE, Book 10, Chapter 6, translated by John K. Ryan. Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1960, pp. 233-34. Here is the chapter at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library: www.ccel.org/ccel/augustine/confess.xi.vi.html
AUGUSTINE JAZZ BONUS: Recently, I was introduced to the music of a wonderful jazz group from Minneapolis—the Jason Harms Quintet. One of the tunes on their new CD is, you guessed it, “What Do I Love? (When I Love My God).” This entire song is available for you to hear at www.jasonharms.com/music.html. I hope you will take a moment to listen to this and some other samples from this terrific CD. Enjoy!
Have a great week.
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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