Good morning all! Just two days until Christmas Eve!
1 Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
2 Let Israel be glad in its Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with victory.
5 Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their couches.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with fetters
and their nobles with chains of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment decreed.
This is glory for all his faithful ones.
Praise the Lord!
Last night I was in Corvallis to listen to Jubilate! Women’s Choir of Corvallis sing their two annual Solstice concerts. They sing through the holidays in singing about darkness and welcoming the light. They were phenomenal last night as 50 women sang all around us at the Unitarian Fellowship at 6pm and at 8pm (yes, I went to both concerts). I had an amazing moment at the first concert. I was sitting in the back row near a corner and there were a few songs in which the choir surrounded us to sing, which I love. I love when I feel enveloped in music. There was one particular song called “May I be still.’ A Buddhist songwriter adapted the prayer of St. Francis…gorgeous prayer that has these words…
May I be still and feel the calm inside me.
May I be still and let the Spirit guide me.
May I be still and hear the voice of love descending from above
and filling me until I am still.
May I be silent and hear the world around me.
May I be silent and let the light surround me.
May I be silent and listen to my heart,
especially the part that speaks to me silently.
If you have a moment and want to look it up, it is well worth the listen but last night in particular, just before the song started the lights dimmed. And then the singer just behind me, we are talking maybe an arms length behind me, rubbed my shoulder just for a moment. I happened to know the singer just behind me…a beautiful singer…and the song started. I had a voice just behind me singing this prayer and I started to tear up. It was a transformational moment. I have never had this imagery in my head of a prayer being sung just behind and above me so clearly, so beautifully and so full of what I needed to hear.
This moment reminded me of the amazing power of song. I can remember one other time this year when I was so moved by music in this way. And I will give you the link to this one….it is a song called “I believe in the sun,” arranged by Mark Miller. Mark played this song for our Annual Conference in June and there were tears everyone. This song is adapted from a letter he found, an anonymous author, who had survived life as Jewish in World War 2….through concentration camps and scarcity of life. And out of that came this beautiful song of what we believe if we can believe in the power of song and light.
What I love about this particular recording is that there is a lot of laughter and joking at the beginning but the minute the music begins, the young choir is transformed and almost transported to this other thin place. You can see how the power of the music takes them on as they sing out.
That is what I love about the Psalmists in scripture, they are singers and the songs ring out. When we talk about Mary tomorrow, she sings out her transformation and light through it all. She echoes what Hannah has sung years before her in praise of God. Over and over in scripture, we find that the biblical characters use song as one of the main ways to express their soul.
How will you sing out today? What will your prayer in song be today? For me, the song of stillness and silence went directly to my heart and was just what I needed…what will your prayer be?