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Asian Christians sing hymns on the Mount of Olives
(photo: Trent Gilliss)

We happened upon the most magnificent soundscape today while viewing the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. It’s a serendipitous few minutes of audio that gives you a feel of the magic of this sacred land and the way religions, people, and cultures continually bump up against one another.

What you first start hearing is a group of Evangelical Christians from South Korea singing a classic hymn. But, within a minute, just as these pilgrims finish, a new wave laps up the side of the ridge. A muezzin calls Muslims to prayer. Then, in stagger-start style, the muezzin’s call from Al-Aqsa Mosque summons another group of Muslims. The recitations float freely and nimbly, almost as if you could waft the layers of sound at your choosing.

We hope you enjoy! I’d appreciate hearing your reactions.


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16 Comments

This reminds me that the world's people are coming into closer contact. How we as people deal with the closeness is, and will be, telling of our humanity and faith on personal, community, and global levels.

Perhaps instead of seeing this time just as one of perpetual war, this calls us to a new perspective, one of seamless and perpetual prayer.

Hearing these expressions of faith is heartening. Listening could be a great start to understanding others.

It's in Israel, with its freedom of religion, that such a thing can happen.

Beautiful capture, Trent. I felt transported.

Thanks, Kyle. Your good friend Chris deserves all the credit.

It's the holy voice of our beloved Earth in all her colorful ways calling out to the Creative Force of Life in all Form. Positively beautiful and like nature, perfect.

Immanence and Transcendence together. What a beautiful thing.

I posted a link to this on Twitter; love your show.

Thank you, Bill. It was marvelous to witness.

I posted a link to this; love your show.

What a wonderful gift in this time of Lent, a season to listen and hear the voice of the sacred. Thanks so much...

Lovely -- thank you for posting. An ancient Druid prayer: all the gods are one god, all the goddesses are one goddess, all the faiths are one faith, all things are interconnected, and Truth is whole.

Yes, this is part of the magic of this magical (and tragic) place, which cannot be experienced or known without being there. Reminds me of when in 1987 I was house-sitting an apartment in the old city on the border between the Jewish, Christian and Arab/Muslim quarters. On Friday I heard the sound of the muzzein and people walking to prayers. Friday night I heard Sabbath prayers and sweet silence on Saturday. Sunday the church bells rang out. And all this within yards of each other! Who says we can't live in peace in the City of Peace?! Keyn yehi ratzon... let it be!
R. Steve Booth-Nadav

Last year I was staying in Beit Sahour - a small village adjacent to Bethlehem. One morning I was awake before dawn; and while standing on the veranda the call to prayer began. There were 5 mosques surrounding me. The Muezzin echoed around me and then the coyotes began to sing. A truly magical and transcendent moment. I wish I had been able to record it. Thank you for taking me back.

That scene you paint is absolutely stunning to imagine. I felt fortunate just to encounter those sounds for several days. While we were recording an interview with Sari Nusseibeh, this powerful call to prayer penetrated his office for nearly 10 minutes. It'll definitely be part of the interview, so stay plugged in!