Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Musical Mysticism of Trevor Hall

“Love all, serve all, and create no sorrow.”
- Trevor Hall

God speaks in every language and to every heart through the visible world and through Sacred Scripture. But all of the universe cannot contain the Divine Whirlwind of His Trinitarian Love; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For humanity, the sacraments are our access point, our invitation into this Mystery of Forever Love, of the Exhilarating Mystery of the Divine Other. But God is not bound to those sacraments; He can work outside of them. The Eucharist is absolutely the source and summit of the faith, but it also shoots off tiny waves and streams of life-giving water that trickle into everything and can draw everyone back to that source.

This gospel of redemption, in short, is in the DNA of every great love song! With the lens of faith and the help of grace, when we hear it, and decipher it, and hold fast to what is good, then we can truly “dance to the rhythm of love” in the music of our culture. In the words of St. Paul we “test everything and retain what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Enter Trevor Hall; dreadlocks, tattoos, Buddha beads and all. He was born in South Carolina, grew up in California, and is currently rocking the music scene with his spiritually charged lyrics and reggae beat. Deliriously positive, Trevor’s music rushes over you like a mountain of salt water, then lifts you up and takes you for a ride on the crest of a towering wave. He is also an avid surfer, maybe that’s why his music swells?

To introduce you to his music, I think I'll follow the pattern of the sea. Waves come in sets of three, so here are three samples of his mystic poetry, and I suggest you ride whichever one you catch, or maybe just the one that catches you. 
Wave One: This one is fast and furious, like a wave off the Australian coast; from the song Volume.
"Rush like a river from the highest mountain, drink from the fountain and stop your counting. What kind of wine does he have in his tavern, oh so enchanted and sing like a mad man. Mad with the love of a wife for her husband, child or mother, sister or brother... sing for the Most High, sing for no other. We are all notes in this eternal song, God plays his flute and we all dance along."
- Trevor Hall

St. Theresa of Avila in her commentary on the Song of Songs once spoke this way. She sang of the King's wine cellar, of drinking deeply, and of losing oneself in that intoxicating love of the Divine, the Most High. Here we see the near limitless expanse of divine love opening before us. What a treasure that Trevor has slipstreamed into this mystical way, and in his wake he draws so many fans with him. It blasts a cold, obligatory type of religion out of the water doesn't it? It’s a reminder that we were made above all for love. Merely following the rules doesn’t seem to answer the heart’s deepest yearning, does it?

Wave Two: Bubbly, strong, and playful, like a California tumbler. From the song 31 Flavors.

"Tell me how many songs that I must sing before I can see you in your glory, hear your whole entire story, bathe inside your golden, golden sea?"

- Trevor Hall, 31 Flavors

This verse is a true hymn to love. Streams of praise pour from him and love draws him up and out of himself! It’s hard to say if he is speaking to a woman or to God Himself! I believe it can work on both levels, like the Song of Songs. Blessed John Paul II said that the great Scriptural hymn is not just a praise of human marriage, or only of spiritual union of Israel with God. He said it’s both!

What a blindingly brilliant thing it is to be able to say to another human being, "Come in... look around. The place is yours." What a crazy thing it is to say to another person, (you with all of your sins and weaknesses, they with theirs) "Let's become one. I give you permission. I turn over the key. What's mine is yours and what's yours, I ask of you, let it be mine." And what a greater wonder that Jesus desires this with us in the Eucharist. If any one is scandalized by this Divine intimacy, just read John 6.

Wave Three: Soft and steady, like the waters at Avalon.

I don't want a reason anymore about the one I love, the one I love
I don't want a reason anymore about God above, God above
I just want to melt away, in all His grace. Drift away, into that sacred place
Where there's no more you and me, no more they and we, just unity…

This final wave from the music of singer/songwriter Trevor Hall is the most mystical. In the song Unity he is pushing the very edge of the heart’s reach for meaning in life. For this young man, guitar in hand and poetry in heart, it all boils down to one word; communion. It is powerful to reflect that this is the very same conclusion so many mystics and poets have made, including Blessed John Paul II in his powerful Theology of the Body. The human heart is made for Oneness, for Communion, for Unity.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

It will be a unity beyond dreams, beyond expectation. When we sprinkle a little holy water on the songs of Trevor Hall, when we see their earthy mysticism purified and proven in the fire of God’s revelation, we learn that Heaven will not be a great fading of humanity into a formless cloud, but a finding of ourselves in Christ. We don’t disappear; we reappear as our true selves! The seed verse of St. Paul in Ephesians 5 will fully blossom; “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

The unity that Trevor sings of and the unity the saints cried out for is hinted at more in marriage than in anything else.
“In this entire world there is not a more perfect, more complete image of God, Unity and Community, than marriage. There is no other human reality which corresponds more, humanly speaking, to that divine mystery.” (Blessed John Paul II, Homily on the Feast of the Holy Family, December 30, 1988)

This truth is out there, on the sea of music and poetry. If we watch the waves (the radio waves), sooner or later one will come along that will take us further out and further into the Mystery than we ever imagined.
This article was originally written and published for Phaith Magazine.


Ken J said...

Thanks for the "introduction" to Trevor Hall. I now have 2 of his albums downloaded!
Ken Johnston
Calix Society

Bill Donaghy said...

Ken, you're welcome. His songs really grab you! Have a blessed Advent.

Peace and Good,

Brian Reilly said...

There's no doubt that Trevor is quite spiritual, but Christian is one thing he is not. Have you heard all of his albums? His track 'many roads' is specifically indicative of his 'all road leads to heaven' mentality which is the furthest thing from Christian one could be (see John 14:6).

I personally enjoy his thought provoking lyrics and easy sounds but I wouldn't recommended him as a Christian artist.

Bill Donaghy said...

I agree Brian. I wouldn't recommend him as a Christian artist either. I just recommend him to Christians, and anyone else for that matter! Have you heard much of Josh Garrels music? There's a fantastic Christian artist I'd highly recommend.


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