Hymns to the Silence

Like a number of other musical geniuses, from Jerry Lee Lewis to Prince, Van Morrison cares about two things: his music and his God. In his early years, as a member of Them (”Gloria”) and as auteur of ”Brown Eyed Girl” and Moondance, his concern was rock; today, as over the last 10 years, he stands on the Rock. Hymns to the Silence is a sprawling, two-disc set of 21 songs, a moody, tangled, and deeply affecting statement of belief. Low points — a catchy but self-pitying ditty called ”Why Must I Always Explain” — suggest Bob Dylan at his crankiest. More memorable are long, sparkling workouts of Celtic soul and gospel — ”I’m Carrying a Torch,” ”Hymns to the Silence,” ”I Need Your Kind of Loving” — in which Morrison urgently mixes physical and spiritual love, finding strength in both. Topping it all is a murmuring memoir, ”On Hyndford Street”; backed only by a spooky keyboard and Van’s own guitar, the song is an extraordinary portrait of the nights, the silence, the shivers ”in the days before rock & roll,” when ”we carried on dreaming in God.” Hymns to the Silence is a major work, a flaming testament to a freefall into faith. A

Hymns to the Silence
  • Music