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The Great Music

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I remember the Great Music. How could I not? It was not as music here in Arda, no, but there is nothing else to call it, for it was more like to sound than to light or to anything else that may be comprehended by your senses.

One by one we sang, to the glory of Eru, and hearkened to one another’s voices. First to sing was Melkor, and his melody was beautiful beyond description; it affected all of us, when we came to our own times to sing. You look at me strangely. Melkor was not evil in the beginning, you must understand that. Only later, when we sang all together, did he change from the themes Eru propounded to one of his own, and draw others to follow him into disharmony. But at first he was the greatest among us, and I loved him. Oh yes, I did love him then.

Following Melkor, we all made our own tunes, one by one, and listened to one another, with the thought of Ilúvatar encompassing all. How long? I cannot answer that. Each of us sang, some longer, some less, and no two voices were the same, but time ran not yet. Before Arda was made, we were timeless: there was neither means nor need nor care to measure it. I do not say this in disparagement of the Children of Ilúvatar, but you cannot truly comprehend how it was; you have not the capacity. Your gifts are other. I describe how it was in terms that I hope you may understand, but they cannot wholly convey the truth.

When all had sung alone, we began to fashion new melodies by singing in twos and threes and greater numbers. One might begin a theme and develop it, with others adding harmony in support; or several might interweave their thoughts and voices equally. But as before, for long each of us listened while others sang, and learned much of beauty and possibility thereby. Those who sang together in the halls of Eru have many times worked together in Arda as well. Those whom you call Manwë and Varda are two such, and with them often sang Eönwë and Ilmarë. And so it goes. With whom did I sing, I can see you wonder. I sang with Námo and with Irmo often, and yes, with Melkor at times also.

On a time Eru called us all together, for by then we did not always listen as one, but many might sing at once in different parts of the halls. Now when all were assembled, he sang to us a theme which we might repeat and embroider upon at our will; and this was a new thing, for until then we had sung what moved us with no guidance from Ilúvatar. And the beauty and majesty of the melody were such that all hesitated to begin. At last one who might seem to you the least among us began to sing, and gradually all took up the harmony and began to create such melody as had never before been known, nor has it been since. Though at the end of time, we have been told, it will be surpassed, when the Children of Ilúvatar all add their voices to the Music. And the glory and the joy of it filled all the halls, and spilled over into the Void without, until even the Void was made full.

But some time after we had begun this Great Music, a disharmony arose within it. With Melkor that began, as you have doubtless heard. I have thought long on the reasons thereof, and reached no answer, unless it be that he was shamed that he sang not first to Ilúvatar’s theme. Though why that should have brought him dishonor I do not know. Once he began to depart from the greater harmony, he introduced discord: and that had been a thing unknown, which disturbed all. Some ignored it as they could, and others altered their melodies to follow Melkor, but none could be unaware.

Into this disharmony Eru gently introduced a new melody, and many among us found it yet more beautiful than the first. But the same happened as before, that the discord of Melkor warred against it, and some gave up singing altogether in dismay. At that Ilúvatar became stern, and brought forth a third theme, which sounded at first delicate but could not be overwhelmed, for it took the clamor of sound that Melkor and his followers made and turned each note to its own use, making from discord a sorrowing and yet triumphant melody. But the strife could not be stilled, until at last with a gesture Ilúvatar ended the Music on a chord that encompassed all that had come before, harmony and disharmony alike.

Then in the stillness he showed to us a vision in which the Music was given form, and spoke to us of it, and many of us wished to labor there to bring to pass what we saw. I was grieved by the tumults that I saw would result from Melkor’s song: that was my purpose and hope in entering Arda, that by my presence I might help still them. For I loved Melkor, as I have said, and my sorrow for him was very great, but I believed that I might persuade him to restraint, reminding him of the harmonies we had once made together. I mourn for all the ruin he has brought to Arda, but still more do I mourn for the ruin he has brought upon himself; for once he was first among us, and now he has fallen low indeed. Even Melkor’s greatest follower, Sauron, of whose malice you are well aware, is not so abased; for he had never been as mighty as his master, and thus lost less.

Yet still I have hope in my sorrow, for if all the Children of Ilúvatar are someday to sing together once more, will not Melkor be among them? Therefore I abide here in Arda and work to heal her marring, that one day all might sing in harmony once again.

You began by asking me if I dwelt on the borders of the World so that I could hear the echoes of the Great Music still. Have I answered you?