Day 348: On Great Shoulders

Last night I watched a TV show on the BBC called ‘Howard Goodall’s Story of Music‘ (I’ve linked it to the show but it won’t be available for too long so I imagine it will be redundant pretty soon). For me, it was perfect. I love the history of early music and how the standards of music theory came to be what they are. But it got me thinking wider than music theory. I’ll include some of Goodall’s examples as well as a few others so you can see what I mean:

Gregorian monks first experimented with parallel harmonies around five centuries after the death of Jesus; evolving from the previous standard of singing only in unison (the same melody line together). Harmony developed in complexity from these humble beginning, but remained short in nature due to the fact that there was simply no way to notate it!

After many attempts at notation by others, Guido of Arezzo invented the beginnings of today’s standard notation system in around 1000 AD. From this method longer, more extravagant pieces could be composed. Music could also be shared with people who had never heard it before. Without these crucial milestones in the evolution of music, my role would be non-existent!

Tim Berners-Lee’s development of HTML and its introduction to the public in 1991 was a pivotal step in the evolution of the world wide web. Without it, there would be no such thing as web logs (blogs) and you certainly wouldn’t be reading my ramblings each day!

Ben Davies’ move from Wales to lead a minuscule church in Bracknell probably seemed like a fairly low key affair nearly half a century ago. Ben would go on to lead the church through enormous growth, the faith-filled journeys to funding incredible buildings and the development of a community that seeks to see God impact the lives of people in the surrounding area. This church is where I work; but more importantly, its community is the one that provided the space and encouragement I needed for me to meet with God for the first time. Without it, who knows where I’d be.

Colin Boyle and Helen Cottee in separate stints have utterly transformed the worship team that I work for. Through their tireless and continued perseverance, they have created a fantastic team of musicians and worshippers that I have the utter privilege of supporting.

There are so many more examples. The number is too large to count. And that’s without noting the immeasurable impact that Jesus had on us. Watching Howard Goodall’s study of the history of music has reminded me that we are standing on great shoulders. Everything about me, from my appearance to my thoughts, from my faith to my musical abilities, from my laptop to my car and far, far more besides has come from the the people that have walked this road before me. As I stop looking up to my next challenge and begin to look down from the lofty heights of progression, it’s hard not to be moved by the people that have lifted me to where I am; lifted us to where we are. It’s incredible how many ‘insignificant’ lives can collectively make a ridiculous, unfathomable difference to the world we live in.

And people say we can’t change the world!


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