How Can I Keep from Singing?

November 1, 2007

It had been a hard couple of months. On the emotional and spiritual roller coaster that comes with chronic illness, I was at a low. Other trials were tugging at my heart, too.

It was at this time that my friend invited me to participate in a community choir. (I am convinced she was inspired.) They had already begun the summer season, but would I like to join?

Would I?!?!

I hadn’t had the chance to sing — I mean really sing — since my choir days in college. And I hadn’t ever had the chance to sing in a small choir. (The reason I could have had that chance earlier in my life (but obviously didn’t) is another spiritual experience to discuss, perhaps another day.) I was almost giddy with anticipation.

I looked forward to those weekly Wednesday rehearsals. The choir was full of good and kind people. I loved feeling of their spirits and of our shared love of music. It was clear we had a shared love of the Lord as well. Our wonderful conductors nourished that faith through occasional discussion that brought a sense of unity and purpose in our singing. In our being.

Our hearts were also knit together as we worked hard at hard songs, and then savored that sense of accomplishment when those pieces finally started coming together.

But the most amazing blessing of singing in that choir was that I found the Spirit again. I found peace again.
What though my joys and comforts die, the Lord my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round, songs in the night He giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the Rock I’m clinging.
While Christ is mine, and I am His, how can I keep from singing?
(Robert Lowry (arr. John Leavitt). “How Can I Keep From Singing?”)

I began the summer singing those words with an aching heart. I felt darkness in my life, surrounded by physical, emotional and spiritual storms. I wanted to feel the calm of which we sang, but instead I felt pain, loneliness. Heaven felt distant. But by the end of the summer, through the blessing of this choir and other tender mercies, I found my faith again. I found God’s love again.

Surely the sweet and wondrous love
Shall measure all my days.
And as it never shall remove,
So neither shall my praise!
So neither shall my praise!

The God of love my Shepherd is, and He that doth me feed.
While He is mine and I am His, what can I want or need?”

(George Herbert (arr. Roy Hopp). “The God of Love My Shepherd Is,” Kingston, NY: Selah Publishing Co. (1993).

Indeed, to feel God’s love again was enough. Life was still challenging, but I found life anew in His love. (How easy it is to forget!)

Countless times, it is music (sung or heard) that has helped me connect with heaven. How grateful I am for gifted, faith-filled musicians, many not of my faith, who help keep my heart and spirit in tune.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?


One comment

  1. I thought of the Quaker hymn that Felicia Sorenson used as an end cap to her album when I saw this post.

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