HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING?

A blog post about the power of music in our lives right now.
By: Rebecca Garrett Pace,
Minister of Worship & The Arts, and a musician who’s sort of out of practice, TBH.


It’s been lots of several, very many days (approximately) since I got to sing with the choir. It’s been slightly fewer days since I got to sing with the folk band, but even then it was only two of us singing at a time, and standing super far apart, and not facing each other. Because pandemic.
I miss harmony.
See, I can sing at home, and I do. I sing almost every day. I play piano almost every day. I play guitar several times a week. I lead our Choir Zoom every Wednesday and what a blessing it is to see their faces, and to sing with them, even though we all mute ourselves and just see each others’ mouths moving while Faron plays hymns with us. 
But I miss harmony.
See, I can practice at home, and I do. I practice my scales, and I practice my favorite hymns, and I stumble through pieces that are pretty far above my skill level, probably much to the annoyance of my family (but they’re kind enough just to shut their door and put in their AirPods and not mention it). 
But, you see, I miss harmony.
Harmony is the presence of many voices together — many people joining their individual talent or skills, big and small and in between, and the whole becomes more than the parts.
What harmonizes your life? What brings beautiful complexity, musical consonance, sonorous richness to your heart? What are you missing? What are you grieving? Is it singing? Is it hugging? Is it cooking for people and having them cook for you? Is it seeing your grandchildren or great grandchildren or BFFs?
You see, I think we all miss harmony. 
We’re tempted to think that our songs, our cooking, our teaching, our talents, our contributions to the world don’t matter right now, because they’re not received by groups of people; they’re not possible in person.
But we’ve got to keep singing.
Because somehow, our voices still harmonize in God’s ears. Somehow, our song matters so much right now. Our shared humanity and our storytelling and our cooking and our dreaming and our laughing matter right now. I can’t explain it. I just know it.
We’ve got to keep singing.
Because song, and food, and laughter, and community — these things bind us more than anything else. They teach us. The songs that the freedom protestors sang in the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Apartheid Struggle and the Black Lives Matter movements, those songs matter. The food shared at church revivals and brought to the doorsteps of grieving neighbors, shared with strangers and eaten on a Zoom call “dinner date” with family we can’t see in person, that food matters.
When I was searching pexels.com for a photo to use for this blog post, I searched “singing,” which brought up nothing but photos of people wielding microphones (improperly, too, might I add. You should hold the mic forward, toward your mouth, not breathe over the top of it or prop it on your chin. Ok soapbox done now) and rocking out on electric guitars. Well that won’t do. So I searched “choir.” That gave me one single picture of a professional choir in matching outfits. Not quite it. So I searched “music.” And I got photos of people laughing, and of people playing guitar and ukulele and saxophone; I got photos of pianos with broken keys and street festival bands and dusty record stores. Now we’re getting somewhere. 
I settled on this photo of a singing bowl, and I thought “this is perfect.” Because singing bowls don’t sing quite like humans sing, using our vocal folds and creating vibrations through our larynx and throat apparatus. Singing bowls sing with their whole beings. They sing because the music infuses them and they create the most incredible tone — each one unique, no two exactly the same vibration frequency — singing bowls sing simply by being what they are meant to be.
We’ve got to keep making our music. Sing the songs of your old broken piano keys and play the three chords you know on guitar. Cook the one dish you can successfully make without setting your apartment on fire (speaking from experience. Remind me to show you the singed orange  blanket sometime). Play your old records and call your old friends and google singing bowls and — 
Keep. Singing.
This is what will hold us together.
There’s a song that’s called “How Can I Keep from Singing,” and I want to leave you with these lyrics, which represent one of many versions of this early American folk hymn. May this be our prayer as we continue to trudge through these tough days.

How Can I Keep from Singing

My life goes on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness 'round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since Love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
When tyrants tremble in their fear
And hear their death knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging,
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?

No Comments


Recent

Archive

Categories

Tags