Musical Thoughts on the Transfiguration

August 6th is the day when Christians celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration in the Liturgical Calendar. Biblical events and the lives of the Saints are commemorated on specific days throughout the year so as to provide us daily reminders about the many inspiring and miraculous stories from Christian history. The Transfiguration is the story of Jesus revealing his divinity to the apostles Peter, James, and John. It's one of the pivotal moments in the Gospel where Jesus himself is miraculously transformed as a preview of both his death and Resurrection. In our own lives, we can all relate to that moment where our experience transcends the normal world, where a bridge is formed between the literal and the implied, the physical and the metaphysical, the natural and the supernatural, and this story reminds us of just that. 

On Inward Looking Outward, "The Transfiguration" plays a pivotal role in the musical narrative for the listener. The track is near the end of the record and acts as a transition from the earlier tracks' feeling of a journey to the record's arrival point. From here, the narrative calms down and sends the listener forth with the final track of "Take Me Home". 

Take a moment today to reflect on this Feast and check out Sufjan's lyrics below as you listen: 

"The Transfiguration" by Sufjan Stevens

When he took the three disciples to the mountainside to pray
His countenance was modified, his clothing was aflame
Two men appeared, Moses and Elijah came
They were at his side
The prophecy, the legislation spoke
Of whenever he would die

Then there came a word of what he should accomplish on the day
Then Peter spoke, to make of them a tabernacle place
A cloud appeared in glory as an accolade
They fell on the ground
A voice arrived, the voice of God
The face of God covered in a cloud

What he said to them, the voice of God, the most beloved son
Consider what he says to you, consider what's to come
The prophecy was put to death, was put to death
And so will the son
And keep your word, disguise the vision
Till the time has come

Lost in the cloud, a voice
Have no fear, we draw near
Lost in the cloud, a sign
Son of man, turn your ear

Lost in the cloud, a voice
Lamb of God, we draw near
Lost in the cloud, a sign
Son of man, son of God