Saturday, October 4, 2014

31 Songs: Be Thou My Vision

This is so much harder than I thought.

I mean, seriously: I am surrounded by music.

All day long.

I play music. I listen to music. Music streams in the kitchen and I dance around like crazy. 

And today - the FOURTH day of blogging a song a day - I'm already dry.

Mind you, this comes after a day in which I literally played music with my fingers on the piano for just shy of one hour. It's a day in which I've practiced the music I am playing tomorrow for church, both literally and in my head.

It's a normal day, in which there are snippets of tunes playing in my head ALL STINKING DAY LONG.  Even now, as I type; the chorus of a relatively redundant and simple song that we're doing tomorrow is doing cartwheels around my brain, twirling and twisting of its own accord. I'm not really thinking about this song; it's just there, making noise.

/ / /

I think that's it. Four days in, I'm learning that the thing I take for granted - the constant melody and lyric - might be nothing. more. than. noise.

All this music, all day.

And there is NOTHING that draws me to write. Nothing that compels me to share, to wax poetic. None of the, "Oh my gosh, I can't WAIT to blog about this because it was so incredible!" that I experienced last October.

Noise.

Is it all just noise?

/ / /

Because I can't bear to break the rules (of my own making) so early in the game, I will mention this: I played 30 minutes of pre-service music for my friend's wedding today. I have fond memories of playing hotel lounges for happy hour; solo jazz improv, killing 45-minute sets with meanderings and wanderings of all sorts. The invitation to "just play something" for the 30 minutes prior to a wedding is a glorious, welcome offer. It's all in my head, and with a few basic boundaries, I play whatever comes to mind.

For weddings, I always try to move the mood to the awareness the this is, indeed, holy ground; a covenant moment. I sometimes even play the old classic Southern Gospel tune, "We Are Standing On Holy Ground", but hardly nobody knows it anymore, and it doesn't mean much if the words aren't resonant in someone's heart. So I move in other directions.

Today, my favorite part was right before the wedding party began, the place that I always feel is the most holy and sacred. We sit, we wait, we anticipate, and the bride and groom take deep breaths from where they are, separate, before moving to where they will be together. I was in the key of G, playing "How Great Is Our God / How Great Thou Art", and then I found my way (through an F minor chord) (and yes, I realize that about three people understand what I'm talking about and why bother?) (but just indulge me, it's my story!) to Eb. Which, in my estimation, is the brightest and purest key to play in. It shimmers, somehow, on every piano I've ever played. I love Eb.

And I love "Be Thou My Vision" in Eb.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise
Thou my inheritance, now and always

I love this song, especially for a wedding, because it reduces the clutter of all that seeks to distract and destroy us down to a simple plea for focus. I don't care if you're Christian or not - how can you argue with this heartfelt desire?

I've come to love the version Ascend the Hill recorded a few years ago. I'm not a huge fan of the militaristic drum stuff, but I am crazy for the tag.

Oh God, be my everything
Be my delight
Be Jesus, my glory
My soul satisfied

I played today, and found it - again - to be the most precious time for me, to make this music, solo, from my heart, for a room full of people waiting for a wedding.

/ / /

Hmmm. Seems I wasn't so dry after all.


6 comments:

Cyn Huddleston said...

Be Thou my Vision is a favorite.

caroline-smith.com said...

Seems not. Sometimes we just need to sit down and start.

Well done. The song is a favorite of mine as well.

Donia said...

Yes...love this one and your story, even though I don't understand "Eb," etc! :)

annie said...

I like that one too, and I surely don't understand the musically details!

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

I love that song.

Barbara London said...

Thank you for sharing your "dry day" post!!! I loved reading through and recognizing ALL of the songs you mentioned (even hummed along as I read through! Can't wait to see what the other hymns or songs are that you share! I LOVE MUSIC...never learned to play myself; but I have a daughter that plays and sings beautifully. Looking forward to MORE!!!