In the very beginning of Tolkien’s world, before the stories of the great heroes came to pass, the Ainur were created by Ilúvatar. They sang the world into existence in the “Great Music” (The Silmarillion, 3). Ilúvatar instructed them to use the gifts and powers he had given to each in this song, to awaken “great beauty.” The music made something out of the Void, the world in all of its beauty and splendor. But Melkor sought to be greater. He turned the song to discord and brought ugliness and evil into the world just created.
That world contains Middle-earth, including the Shire and the Wood. All of the beauty we see and love there comes from this great song. It is wondrous and beautiful, barely inside of the realm of our imagination. It is, to me, the most beautiful event in all of Tolkien’s works. Beautiful because it serves as a reminder that our world, like the world of Tolkien, is beautiful first. Ugliness and evil are a lack of beauty and goodness, and we were not made for them, no matter how much that might seem to be so.
Second, this scene is so wonderful and beautiful because it comes with a promise. It is said that since then, there has never been anything like unto the music then made, but that at the end of time all the Ainur and the created people faithful to Ilúvatar shall sing a greater and more beautiful song (The Silmarillion, 4).
There is something more to participate in, a beauty yet to be seen or felt or understood, that perhaps one day we may share in, when all the wrongs of the world are righted. That is a source of hope for those in Middle-earth and for me. This hope is wondrously beautiful.