This past week I found myself humming and singing on Tuesday, and again Friday.
Yesterday the song naturally was America the Beautiful. And on July 1? Oh Canada on Canada Day! One song was for my adopted county, another for my native land, both with a patriotic gratitude for the places and people where we are blessed to live.
What emotions bring a song to our lips and music to our souls!
Not every song of course comes from lofty sources. When brawling crowds at British soccer games break out in Abide With Me they are likely moved more by “spirits” than by the Spirit.
I am thinking rather of songs that made tears run down my non-church-going father’s cheeks when he listened to the deep voice of George Beverly Shea on Sunday night radio.
My old college chum John Wesley White, a preacher who has not preached since he was suddenly silenced by a stroke years ago, can hardly pronounce four words, but he can sing them.
And a retired pastor who has been positive all his life tells me that if he now wakes at 4 am in some despair for the world, he finds release singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness.
When Jeanie and I recently went to visit her brother Billy he was barely able to see her face or hear her soft words. But when I sang to him “This is my story, this is my song” his lips moved and he whispered “Amen.”
What in our psyches and our souls makes us break into song?
I have been pondering that since speaking at Singing on the Mountain at Grandfather Mountain, dedicated this year to Charlotte’s own the late Arthur Smith. What makes thousands come year after year, to sit on the grass all day listening to mountain/gospel music?
Could it be that God is a singer – the Singer? the Composer and Conductor?
In the Bible God to us speaks in history and story, prose and poetry. But also in song. The prophet Zephaniah dares to tell some distressed folk, “The Lord your God is with you … he will rejoice over you with singing”!
The Bible is full of song. The “morning stars sang together” at creation. The climaxes with a great closing scene where all creatures join in praise to God. In the middle the peasant girl Mary learns a Holy Child will be born in her and breaks into the Magnificat – “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
And the whole book of Psalms is a virtual song book, with songs of lament – “My soul is cast down” -and jubilation – “Let the trees of the forest sing for joy.” The psalm-singer responds to God’s song, offering us a way express and reorder “our unruly emotions.”
To end a day and start another with song – whether listening to classics on WDAV or singing along with sacred music – I have found a source of daily renewal. Why not try it yourself this summer? If you’re afraid of your voice you can praise in the shower!
You might even brighten a tiresome long family drive by singing!
When our granddaughter Anabel was about four she was riding in the back seat of their family car singing a gospel song.
“Daddy, sing,” she said to her daddy who was driving.
Kevin kept driving.
“Daddy sing,” she said again.”
He kept driving.
Finally she burst out, “Kevin Ford, sing!”
So, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whatever mood you are in … SING!
It will surely do your heart good!
Leighton Ford, July 2014