John Cage (1912–1992) composed Four minutes, thirty-three seconds (or “Four, thirty-three”) in 1952. The score states the performer(s) do not play an instrument through three movements (thirty seconds, two minutes and twenty-three seconds, one minute and forty seconds).

For the premiere David Tudor sat at a piano and closed the keyboard lid. Some time later he opened it marking the end of the first movement. This was repeated for the second and third movements. John Cage said, “They missed the point. There’s no such thing as silence. What they thought was silence, because they didn’t know how to listen, was full of accidental sounds. You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began patterning the roof, and during the third the people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out.”

This reminds me of my experience of watching  Into Great Silence:

It is a unique experience to sit in a quiet, full cinema, where we are used to at least some background music, and for the first thirty to forty minutes there is no music, no human voice. Every sound is heightened – the sound of the snow falling on the screen, a cough in the cinema.

Silence is an essential part of worship – individual silence, corporate silence. [Those who have been to Taize or have been part of that style of worship know how silence is integral there]. How do you use silence individually? As a community?

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