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Observations placeholder

There burst upon my ear from the direction of the church-yard, what seemed to be the splendid roll of a full brass and reed band



Type of Spiritual Experience

Exploring group perception

Number of hallucinations: 3


A description of the experience

A casebook of otherworldly music – D Scott Rogo

Case No. 59 - A Haunted Churchyard

This [experience] was recorded in Sir Ernest Bennett's Apparitions and Haunted Houses (Faber & Faber, Ltd., 1939). The case, almost entirely of music, is self-explanatory and was described in a letter to Bennett dated July 23, 1889.

It affords me much pleasure, in answer to your letter of the 20th which I only received today, to give you an account of my experiences in connection with the music in D. woods, which does not seem due to any ordinary source.

I have heard it, I think, four times, and always at the same place, viz. on the public road which runs along the south bank of the Tweed, and which passes at the distance of three-quarters of a mile the old churchyard of D. The churchyard, from which the music always seems to come, is south of the road, and at a much higher elevation, and the intervening ground is densely covered with wood. The first two or three times I heard the sound it was very faint, but sufficiently distinct to enable me to follow the swellings and cadences.

 I do not know why, but on those occasions I never for a moment thought it was real music. Neither did I think it anything very unusual, though the tones seemed more ethereal than any I had heard before. I am exceedingly fond of music, and in my walks, frequently sing without sound (if I may use such an expression) tunes, pieces, and "songs without words." I thought that my imagination produced the result, though it did seem strange that I never heard anything similar in other woods.

Years passed, and I had forgotten all about the matter, when I heard it again, and I will not soon forget the last performance.

Last year I was walking up to X. to drive with Mr. and Mrs. M. to a tennis match. When I reached the usual spot, there burst upon my ear from the direction of the church-yard, what seemed to be the splendid roll of a full brass and reed band. It did not recall the former occasions, and I never for a moment doubted its reality. My first thought was that Sir Y. X. had lent his park for a Sunday-school treat, and my second was that the band was far too good, and the music of far too high a class for such a purpose.

I walked on, enjoying it thoroughly, never dreaming-that I was not listening to good ordinary music, till it suddenly struck me that the sound, though now faint, ought to have been inaudible, as there was now between me and the churchyard the big broad shoulder of S. (a hill). I began to remember the other-infinitely less distinct-performances I had heard, and though not superstitious enough to believe that there was anything which could not be explained on natural grounds, I felt that the explanation was beyond my power of discovery or conjecture.

Of course, I intended immediately telling my friends at X., but my attention must have been called to something else, as I did not do so. We drove away, and after some time, we all, except Mrs. M., got out to walk up a very steep hill. Walking at the side of the carriage I told the most minute circumstances of my strange experience. Mrs. M. seemed to take it very seriously, but Mr. M. ridiculed the whole affair as a freak of the imagination.

I tell you these little incidental circumstances to show you how indelibly the events of the day were engraven upon my memory.

I had not, at that time, heard that the sounds had been listened to by any other person, but it is now well known that they have often been heard by Sir Y.Z. and once by Lady Z.

In the last case the music resembled that of a choir, unaccompanied by instruments. In my cases there was nothing resembling vocal music.

[Signed] I. L. B.

This case was corroborated by other witnesses. Both Lady Z. and her husband, Sir Y.Z, heard chanting and they testify as follows:

On the hot, still afternoon of July 12, 1888, I was sitting resting with some old ladies at our pretty little cemetery chapel, within the grounds of our house in Scotland, far away from all thoroughfare or roads. Whilst I was talking I stopped suddenly and exclaimed, “Listen! what is that singing?” It was the most beautiful singing I had ever heard, just a wave of cathedral chanting, a great many voices - which only lasted a few seconds. The lady said she heard nothing and, thinking she might be deaf, I said nothing. I quite thought it might be haymakers at work, and yet I turned my head round, for the singing was so close by.

 It dawned upon me, "The Scotch need not say they cannot sing." There were several others sitting with us, but they heard nothing (which astonished me). I said nothing more till the evening, when I casually said to my husband, "What was that singing where we were sitting this p.m.?" thinking he would reply, "Oh, it was the men at work." But, to my astonishment, he replied, 'I have often heard that before, and it is chanting l hear." (Mark, I had not said I had heard several voices, only singing, which was very remarkable.)

And then, and not till then, I saw that the voices could not have been human, and certainly I had not imagined it. I had never heard such heavenly (that is the only adjective I can use) music before, and would not have missed it for anything. I was in no wise in a sentimental or fanciful state of mind when I heard the music, but only talking of the common subjects of the day. This is my written statement, and accurately, true.

[Signed] L. Z.

Sir Y. Z. added his corroboration:

When alone at the cemetery I have occasionally heard, from within the chapel, sounds as of chanting.

(Signed) Y. Z.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Celestial music


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps