Simon Russell Beale’s excellent BBC 4 series Sacred Music concluded last night with John Tavener, a composer whose intimidating, anachronistic religiosity reminds me of Geoffrey Hill’s. Makes you doubt your Doubts. It was nice to watch a whole programme about religion without Richard Dawkins appearing to state the bleedin’ obvious.
Sacred music is about humans, hope and hopelessness; God is the justification. In Dawkins’ and Bjorn from Abba's post-religious world, where middle distance-gazing professionals gather in conference centres to discuss painless suicide techniques, and where reclining in First Class on the Eurostar we eat Asian Fusion food from recyclable boxes and tap secret, bleak poems into our Apple notebooks et cetera, I Know That My Redeemer Liveth will still make perfect sense. More sense, if anything – the poignancy will verge on unbearable. Happy Easter!