Music unfolds in time. The rhythms of the music of all cultures arise from the natural rhythms of respiration and pulse. Unique to the tonal music of the West, however, is its capacity to create a perception of time on two distinct levels, that is, the natural time of systole and diastole, and the plastic time of tonal events. The coincidence or conflict of durational and tonal rhythm, that is, between metronome time and the pace of tonal motion, gives composers the tools to depict higher orders of time. That is what makes possible the sacred in music, for our perception of the sacred involves a transformation in our perception of time.

David P. Goldman, “Sacred Music, Sacred Time”