Peter and the Wolf is a musical composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. It is a symphonic fairy tale where a narrator tells a children’s story while the orchestra illustrates it.
Each character of this tale is represented by a corresponding instrument in the orchestra: the bird by a flute, the duck by an oboe, the cat by a clarinet, the grandfather by a bassoon, the wolf by three horns, Peter by the string quartet, the shooting of the hunters by the kettle drums and bass drum. It is a fascinating story that rings loudly in the ears of the hearer and tells a tale of love, fear, danger, release and happiness. As a child I often enjoyed hearing this musical composition, because in the end it made everything come together and be happy with the outcome….except maybe for the duck.
Peter and the Wolf is a children’s tale, telling a story that speaks to a child with imagination. It is a work of art that causes us to listen to other works of art. When I hear hymns I often wonder why they are written, what made the author write these words to music? Why the choice of this type of music and sound? Why do these sounds penetrate my heart as I try to understand?
Perhaps the most notable of all the many hymns we hear, Amazing Grace, is the most penetrating. The author John Newton reflects his conversion from his earlier existence as a slave trader. But it is a hymn that goes deeper than just an autobiographical work, it tells of the pain and fears we each carry in our lives, regardless of who we are or where we are on life’s journey. It also speaks to the Grace that God brings us when we turn ourselves around. The joy of this sound in music and the joy of reliving the story of finding amazing grace in one’s life is a notable impression. This hymn has hit the cord of many lives. It is a hymn that is not a fairy tale!