Storm's Journal

  The Celts of old believed that the world was upheld and sustained
  by a single all-embracing melody: Oran Môr, they called it, the Great
  Music, and all creation was part of it. perhaps this is why Celtic
  music possesses the power to move us in unexpected ways - it touches
  that place deep in our hearts where legends still live, and we hear
  again the strains of the Ancient Song. (Stephen R. Lawhead, 1996)

--| AINULINDALE |----- 

AINULINDALE - The Music of the Ainur
By: J.R.R. Tolkien

There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar and he made
first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and
they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them,
propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was
glad. But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together,
while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of me mind of
Ilúvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their
brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper
understanding, and increased in unison and harmony.

And it came to pass that Ilúvatar called together all the Ainur and
declared to them a mighty theme, unfolding to them things greater and more
wonderful than he had yet revealed; and the glory of its beginning and the
splendour of its end amazed the Ainur, so that they bowed before
Ilúvatar and were silent. Then Ilúvatar said to them: 'Of the
theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony
together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame
Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each
with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I win sit and hearken,
and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song.'
Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and
trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with
words, began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music; and a
sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed
beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the
dwelling of Ilúvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and
the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void. Never
since have the Ainur made any music like to this music, though it has been
said that a greater still shall be made before Ilúvatar by the choirs
of the Ainur and the Children of Ilúvatar after the end of days. Then
the themes of Ilúvatar shall be played aright, and take Being in the
moment of their utterance, for all shall then understand fully his intent in
their part, and each shall know the comprehension of each, and
Ilúvatar shall give to their thoughts the secret fire, being well

But now Ilúvatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed
good to him, for in the music there were no flaws. But as the theme
progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his
own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar, for
he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to
himself. To Melkor among the Ainur had been given the greatest gifts of
power and knowledge, and he had a share in all the gifts of his brethren. He
had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame;
for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it
seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was
impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with
Ilúvatar. But being alone he had begun to conceive thoughts of his
own unlike those of his brethren.

Some of these thoughts he now wove into his music, and straightway discord
arose about him, and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, and their
thought was disturbed and their music faltered; but some began to attune
their music to his rather than to the thought which they had at first. Then
the discord of Melkor spread ever wider, and the melodies which had been
heard before foundered in a sea of turbulent sound. But Ilúvatar sat
and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging
storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath
that would not be assuaged.

Then Ilúvatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that he smiled; and he
lifted up his left hand, and a new theme began amid the storm, like and yet
unlike to the former theme, and it gathered power and had new beauty. But
the discord of Melkor rose in uproar and contended with it, and again there
was a war of sound more violent than before, until many of the Ainur were
dismayed and sang no longer, and Melkor had the mastery. Then again
Ilúvatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that his countenance was
stern; and he lifted up his right hand, and behold! a third theme grew amid
the confusion, and it was unlike the others. For it seemed at first soft and
sweet, a mere rippling of gentle sounds in delicate melodies; but it could
not be quenched, and it took to itself power and profundity. And it seemed
at last that there were two musics progressing at one time before the seat
of Ilúvatar, and they were utterly at variance. The one was deep and
wide and beautiful, but slow and blended with an immeasurable sorrow, from
which its beauty chiefly came. The other had now achieved a unity of its
own; but it was loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated; and it had little
harmony, but rather a clamorous unison as of many trumpets braying upon a
few notes. And it essayed to drown the other music by the violence of its
voice, but it seemed that its most triumphant notes were taken by the other
and woven into its own solemn pattern.

In the midst of this strife, whereat the halls of Ilúvatar shook and
a tremor ran out into the silences yet unmoved, Ilúvatar arose a
third time, and his face was terrible to behold. Then he raised up both his
hands, and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament,
piercing as the light of the eye of Ilúvatar, the Music ceased.
Then Ilúvatar spoke, and he said: 'Mighty are the Ainur, and
mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur,
that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them
forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that
no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any
alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but
mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself
hath not imagined.' Then the Ainur were afraid, and they did not yet
comprehend the words that were said to them; and Melkor was filled with
shame, of which came secret anger. But Ilúvatar arose in splendour,
and he went forth from the fair regions that he had made for the Ainur; and
the Ainur followed him.

But when they were come into the Void, Ilúvatar said to them: 'Behold
your Music!' And he showed to them a vision, giving to them sight where
before was only hearing; arid they saw a new World made visible before them,
and it was globed amid the Void, and it was sustained therein, but was not
of it. And as they looked and wondered this World began to unfold its
history, and it seemed to them that it lived and grew. And when the Ainur
had gazed for a while and were silent, Ilúvatar said again: 'Behold
your Music! This is your minstrelsy; and each of you shall find contained
herein, amid the design that I set before you, all those things which it may
seem that he himself devised or added. And thou, Melkor, wilt discover all
the secret thoughts of thy mind, and wilt perceive that they are but a part
of the whole and tributary to its glory.'

--| References |--- 

- Exerpted from The Silmarilion, by J.R.R. Tolkien

- See Also: Tolkien's Osanwe-kente. 

Back to Storm's Journal

SUBMIT AN ARTICLE posted: march 1, 2000