Monday, October 7, 2013

Music to the Soul

As a Mormon (LDS church), music is a big part of our worship and meetings. I have always loved the Primary (children's group) songs, the Hymns, and most other religious music. Of course, my favorite is when I not only hear them, but can participate and sing too. I'm sure I've mentioned before that I really can't sing on key. When Megan was about 4 years old, she naively and kindly said, "You aren't singing it right, Mommy." She could tell I was off-key. It hasn't ever stopped me from singing. In fact, she's one of my biggest singing fans. She (for the most part) smiles and says, "I love that you love to sing, and you don't care what you sound like." But she also gets plenty frustrated, like the times I've sat next to her at the organ or piano and she has tried faithfully to get me to match the keys she is playing. Other times she is somewhat embarrassed, like when I sing along to the radio in the car, or at the store, or at a concert.

My other children don't have quite the same musical prowess (Drew actually does, but apparently he switches to match whatever key I'm singing in.) and the only singing critique I get from the others is an occasional a frequent eye-roll.

That was a long-winded way to tell you that I have always enjoyed singing church songs. I remember being 9 years old and away on a 2 week vacation with a friend and her family. One day, while playing at the seaside I felt homesick and a little sad. While standing on the pebbley sand, staring out at the ocean, I began singing a hymn. It immediately made me feel better. I think that is my earliest experience that taught me, how much comfort I could receive from good, uplifting music.

Another musical memory that I remember fondly, is a time I was having a painful medical procedure done that would ultimately tell me I had miscarried. To distract me during the procedure, I began singing quietly a church hymn, it was kind of a random one that came to my mind, but because of that tender memory, it has become one of my favorites.

Oh man, am I blabbing.
My point really is to tell you that music has proven on many occasion to provide a great deal of comfort to me, and it is music I turned to on a flight I was on a few weeks ago. It was late at night, I was anxious to return home, and we sat on the runway for two hours waiting for departure due to a weather delay. To top it all off, as we were finally ready for take-off the pilot announced there would be severe turbulence for a fair amount of the flight.

I have one particular song I sing in my mind every.single.time. I take off on a plane. So as usual, I sang that same ole song as the plane ascended upwards. Before too long, as predicted the turbulence began, and I closed my eyes and decided I would quietly sing whatever hymns came to my mind, in hopes of receiving comfort during what for me is anything but a relaxing flight.

Except this time, the singing didn't quite help as much as I'd hoped...

Let me explain.

I started with one of my favorites, "How Great Thou Art." Except before too long, I got to the part of the song, "When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and take me home...." I didn't want it to appear that I was soliciting Jesus coming to get me at that particular time, and quickly decided I'd better change songs.

I went to another favorite, "Come, Come Ye Saints." Except after a few moments, I found myself singing, "And should we die, before our journey's through..." That didn't provide much comfort either, and so I quickly began singing another favorite.

Except as soon as I began the first line, "Nearer, my God to thee." The scene from the movie, Titanic came to my mind, where the small orchestra is playing that song as the Titantic ship slowly sank into the ocean.

I quickly switched songs to another favorite, "The Lord Is My Shepherd", but pretty much as soon as I started singing it, I realized, it too was a bad choice, "Thru the valley and shadow of death though I stray..."

Good heavens!
I hadn't realized before now how many of my favorite hymns, are NOT good choices for when I'm feeling tense and a slight bit manic about the fact my life could end at any moment. Was there any song that I could find comfort in as I was bouncing through the skies, that would not remind me of death or meeting my maker?

Ah yes. I finally recalled one. I began singing one of my childhood favorites, one I chose to sing at my baptism as a child. "There is Sunshine in my Soul Today."

I smiled, and relaxed, and hoped to goodness this flight wouldn't be the time, "Jesus shows his smiling face."

All irony aside, I felt more at peace on that flight home than any other flight I've taken in recent history. Perhaps it's due to the fact I've flown a fair amount lately, or more likely, it is absolutely due to the peace I know can come from singing these songs I've always loved.

(Lest you think I drove my fellow passengers crazy, remember airplane sounds are loud, and my "singing" was nothing more than quite whispers to myself.")

I more than likely have a long distance trip on the horizon. I'm going to study out a selection of "appropriate" hymns to have in my mind before I embark on such a journey.

Happy Monday.

Bonus:
Although not a song we sing in our church meetings, it is one of my absolute favorites...
Well worth 6 minutes of your time.


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