I have just been standing outside to look at the moon and stars as the dawn comes up, and to listen to the pre-dawn chorus - which was (as I have heard before) dominated by the song of a male blackbird situated (apparently, it was too dark to be precise) near the top of an ash tree in a nearby garden.
The song of a blackbird is ridiculously beautiful - both in its tone, and the endless variety of its inventions and combinations; yet these birds are extremely common in Britain - even in the middle of cities (which is where I live - well, only about a mile from the middle).
All blackbirds are good singers, but blackbirds have their Pavarottis, James Bowmans, Bjorlings, Rogers Covey Crumps, Stuart Burrows and Luigi Alvas... This blackbird was an exceptional singer even among his kind - a German lyric tenor with clarity and power and ardency - a Fritz Wunderlich.
Twice a day, at the extremes of the day, all over the country, these common little birds are pouring-out their unsurpassed song for those with ears to hear.
I have always been affected by them - and by the gratuitousness of this beauty of their song. But as an atheist I thought it poignant and a little pitiful that I should be so moved by an evolved mating display indifferent to myself; now, as a Christian, the intrinsic beauty is enhanced by the conviction that there is meaning behind it all, albeit barely glimpsed: the blackbird, the moon and the stars.