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The Joy of Music

My life flows on in endless song above earth’s lamentation.

I hear the real though distant song that hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing.

It sounds an echo in my soul, how can I keep from singing?

What though the tempest loudly roars, I hear truth, it’s living!

What though the darkness round me close, songs in the night it’s giving!

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that rock I’m clinging.

Since I believe that love abides, how can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble when they hear the bells of freedom ringing.

When friends rejoice both far and near, how can I keep from singing?

In prison cell, in dungeon dark, our thoughts to them are winging.

When friends hold courage in their hearts, how can I keep from singing?

This is probably as close as I can come to a personal statement.

I didn’t write it, but I take the words to this hymn to heart. Bad times, good times, the joy of music. It has it all for me.

It’s only been in the Lutheran hymnody since the 1995 arrival of With One Voice so we don’t know it well as a hymn. As a folk music fan, I probably learned the Pete Seeger version from the 60s.

This song is me. I have always been a singer.

As I prepare for a trip to Europe to sing this song, and many others in churches across Austria and the Czech Republic I remember my first trip to Europe as an 11-year-old. My parents, my brother and I spent six weeks in a car visiting relatives across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I must have spent that entire time singing (quietly) the soundtrack from the movie The Sound of Music.

Either I really did sing quietly, or I have the most patient family in the world for putting up with THAT for six weeks. Even though my mother did sing in high school, I am the only musical person in my immediate family, so I’m sure they all would have been happier with silence in the car.

Music is what I have always had to keep focused.

Music can have a profound effect on people. People with dementia can remember songs from their childhood. Songs can make us laugh, smile, and cry. Music can bring up memories of the past. It can remind of us of hopes for the future.

“Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak. I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d, And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d, By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.” (William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, 1697)

During the summer you may spend time in the garden, or at the beach, or in the car traveling. Turn on the music you know and love, and sing along. Even people who say they can’t sing have been known to break into song when listening to a favorite.

May your summer be filled with the healing sounds of music.

- Ann Warner

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