The Hidden Words is a new Montreal Baha’i indie supergroup fronted by Alden Penner (of the Unicorns and the Clues) with Jamie Thompson (of the Unicorns and Islands), Eric and James Farr (brothers of Honeyman and the Brothers Farr), Marie-Claire Saindon and Neah Bahji Kelly. Their name is from the unique spiritual text revealed by Baha’u'llah and described by Himself in this way:
This is that which hath descended from the realm of glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God, may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue.
The band came out of a group of young people in Montreal informally getting together regularly to experiment with the challenge of putting some of the sacred verses of the Baha’i Faith to music. They went on to perform a few shows in Montreal and Ottawa until Alden up and went on an epic trip across the world. Now that he’s back the possibility of more shows and a proper recording is looking much better. This is good news for those of us who think that spiritual music should more than a text delivery mechanism.
Here are three of my three favorite tracks of theirs by way of YouTube videos from one show they gave a few months ago at a coffee shop in Ottawa.
UPDATE: Their album has been recorded and I love it. It’s called ‘Free Thyself From The Fetters Of This World’ and it is available to listen to and download.
Paradise of the Placeless
Yeah, that’s Jamie Thompson rocking the suitcase. No big deal. I love the joy that oozes from Eric and James in this video as they clap their gangly little hearts out to Alden’s composition. This one is based on the following Hidden Word:
O OFFSPRING OF DUST! Be not content with the ease of a passing day, and deprive not thyself of everlasting rest. Barter not the garden of eternal delight for the dust-heap of a mortal world. Up from thy prison ascend unto the glorious meads above, and from thy mortal cage wing thy flight unto the paradise of the Placeless. (n. 30)
No man shall attain
Despite their name, they have not confined themselves exclusively to one text. This track is based on the opening words of the Kitáb-i-Íqán, the book described by Shoghi Effendi as “Bahá’u’lláh’s masterly exposition of the one unifying truth underlying all the Revelations of the past” (The World Order of Baha’u'llah p. 61):
No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth. Sanctify your souls, O ye peoples of the world, that haply ye may attain that station which God hath destined for you and enter thus the tabernacle which, according to the dispensations of Providence, hath been raised in the firmament of the Bayán. (p. 1)
The sacred writings of the Baha’i Faith were originally revealed in Arabic and Farsi but have been translated into hundreds of languages so that everyone can read and study them for themselves. And really, the Hidden Words wouldn’t be a hip Montreal band worth it’s salt if it didn’t have at least one song in French. This one is based on a tablet revealed by the Báb, the Prophet who launched a movement across Persia to to prepare people for the coming of Baha’u'llah.
Je suis le Temple mystique édifié par la main de la toute-puissance. Je suis la Lampe que le doigt de Dieu a allumée dans sa niche et a fait briller d’une splendeur éternelle. Je suis la Flamme de cette céleste lumière qui scintilla sur le Sinaï à l’endroit bienheureux, et qui demeura cachée au milieu du Buisson ardent. (Sélections des Écrits du Báb, p. 67)
I am the Mystic Fane which the Hand of Omnipotence hath reared. I am the Lamp which the Finger of God hath lit within its niche and caused to shine with deathless splendour. I am the Flame of that supernal Light that glowed upon Sinai in the gladsome Spot, and lay concealed in the midst of the Burning Bush. (Selections from the Writings of the Bab p. 74)
No, they don’t yet have an album or even a proper website yet, so now is a good time to click over to their Facebook page and become a fan to find out future shows, videos and recordings. Alden has also just released an EP entitled Odes to the House that is similarly inspired by teachings of the Baha’i Faith. Here is a super-hip video of him playing the song ‘Last shelter’: