The photo above was taken when I went to an opera (my first) at the Colón Theatre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a very impressive experience. (In fact, I wrote an article about it.) This past Saturday, I went to a New York Philharmonic concert which included a performance of Samuel Barber's "Knoxville, Summer of 1915", a piece for soprano and orchestra. The text is taken from the writer James Agee. Both the text and the music are, so it seems to me, extremely beautiful; they mutually support each other, and they blend together to form one great aesthetic experience. (This is rather interesting to me at the moment, as I'm taking two classes this semester that have to do with literary theory; it's also important to me in general, since I'm a(n) (aspiring) poet and also sing in two choirs and take voice lessons here at Fordham.) This is what music should do, and what poetry should do as well.
No one would say that one "understands" a piece of music in the absolute sense. When you love someone or something, that person or that thing is unsoundable, like an ocean without a bottom. A great piece of poetry is like that; we can only understand in a limited sense. ("Through a glass darkly", we might say.) It's not for nothing that I sing in a church choir at Fordham; I do think (hoping though I am to avoid sentimental drivel) that such an artistic experience (as writer/singer or reader/listener) is a foretaste of the peace of heaven.
It makes sense that (to pick a beloved example) we cannot conceive of the words of "Silent Night" without its melody. Poetry, as Russian Formalist criticism would say, forces us to sit up and pay attention to something in the reality around us that we might otherwise pass by. It's pretty clear that, for a good amount of people living in 2019, it's very easy to be sucked up into the sort of anti-reality provided by the virtual world of online activity and the professionalization of absolutely everything, with no room left for meaningful leisure. Professional music (as well as professional poetry) are, I would assert, signposts in the desert of professionalized practical living that allow us to leave space for art and its heightened consciousness of meaning in life.