Music’s Power to Evoke Hope & Peace

Today is one of those days where so many in the brotherhood of humanity are looking to lean into something…something that will offer a glimmer of hope and a vision of a day when peace will abide.  Music has, time and time again over the course of history, spoken into such situations…and today is no different.  In the wake of such a terrible tragedy as we’re seeing unfold in the events in Paris, France over the last 24 hours, I am reminded of a piece I did with my choir in Atlanta during my first year there.

1910504 (1)The origins of this poem are found in the origins of war…inscribed on a World War II Concentration camp wall, attributed to a  child, composer Z. Randall Stroope  has sewn together the fragments from what was written on a wall in 1943 in Cologne, Germany.  Today, I’m leaning into these words…a piece called “Inscription of Hope.”

“I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
And I believe in love
even when there’s no one there

And I believe in God
even when He is silent
I believe through any trial
there is always a way.

But sometimes in this suffering
and hopeless despair
My heart cries for shelter
to know someone’s there
But a voice rises within me saying
‘hold on my child’

I’ll give you hope
I’ll give you strength
Just stay a little while
I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining

And I believe in love
even when there’s no one there
And I believe in God
even when He is silent

I believe through any trial
There is always a way

May there someday be sunshine
May there someday be happiness
May there someday be love
May there someday be peace.”

We long for the day when no person will ever again have to scrawl out a message of hope on hell’s dark wall – but instead, from a place of realized hope and bright sunshine.

Psalm 34:14, 18
14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it..The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.


Vivaldi Gloria @ GACS

Here’s a link to our recent performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria.  This is our GACS Choir, Orchestra, String Faculty, Guest Artists and our guest choir from Hoffman Estates HS outside of Chicago.  This is the first half of that performance.  I couldn’t be more proud our our collaboration, our hard work, and the significant musical moment that this is in GACS’ musical history.  

There Has to Be A Song

As I said in yesterday’s post, music is everywhere around me.  In some sense, my life has its own soundtrack, constantly playing in the background of my imagination. There’s ALWAYS a song there.  Singing is everywhere in my life…and it’s everywhere around us.  I shudder to think about what my life and what the world would be like without music.  With that thought in mind, Robert Benson (the same Benson of the famed Brentwood-Benson music company) and composer Andrea Ramsey collaborated on a very popular and powerful setting of Benson’s text “There Has to Be A Song…”  One of my choirs is singing this for our upcoming spring concert…and it’s powerful and true for what I believe about the power of song.  Is there a time when music has served a powerful role in your life?  Leave a comment…I’d love to hear when, where and what made that music so powerful for you.

There Has to Be A Song (Robert Benson & Andrea Ramsey)

There are too many dark nights
Too many trouble some days.
Too many wearisome miles.
There has to be, there has to be a song

There has to be a song to make you burdens bearable
There has to be a song to make our hopes believable
To transform our triumphs into praise There has to be, there has to be a song.

Somewhere, Somewhere down deep in a forgotten corner of each man’s heart
To release the chains of past defeats
There has to be, there has to be a song.

Like a cool clear drink of water
Like the gentle warmth of sunshine
Like the tender love of a child
There has to be, there has to be a song.

Look & sing like you believe it…

Singing is (more or less), my life…either in the choir, listening to the choir, conducting or rehearsing the choir; or maybe is singing in church, or leading the singing in church…in some form or fashion, my life is full of singing.  We sing at many occasions; sad ones, happy ones, celebratory ones, educational ones…singing is there.  (Tomorrow, I’ll post one of my favorite poems about song…)  But why do we sing?  Well, for one reason, it gives voice to what we believe…or at least it should.

I heard a quote a number of years ago while working in a conducting workshop.  The quote was from the great American Choral Conductor, Roger Wagner.  He said “Look and sound like you believe what you sing…”  He goes on to talk about the importance of language, diction, energy, facial communication, and how if you don’t look and sound like you believe what you sing, no one will want to watch or let alone, sing with you.

While he’s very much speaking of music in the realm of performance, I think there is absolutely something to be gained here for those of us abide in the realm of congregational worship as well.  Specifically for us in Churches of Christ…Whether you find yourself a leader in a church who uses a solo worship or song leader or in a church that uses a praise/worship team (Stealth or stage variety), we have a responsibility to draw the congregation into participation.  This comes directly from our energy, our face, our demeanor, and conveying that we wholeheartedly believe the words we’re asking people to sing with us.  Do you lead and sing in such a way that conveys that you believe the words you’re singing and asking others to sing with you?