The Question Kathleen and I Often Ask Each Other

Kathleen and I have a particular question we ask each other  with some regularity. We may pose it early in the morning or as evening approaches. Our question: Do you have a song?

The answer is almost always, yes! So we then compare notes.

The tunes we report playing in our memories are most often a stanza from a favorite hymn or gospel song and quite often one we may have sung in church during our childhood. We find making the comparisons fun.

She and I experience these songs differently. In her memory Kathleen sings the words to herself. For me, it is more like a choir singing in the distance and I am the listener.

Yesterday Kathleen told me her song reached back to Sunday School in her early years, and that she couldn’t recall having sung it in ages. It was from that little song about God’s care for the sparrow. The refrain goes:

He loves me too!

He loves me too!

I know He loves me too.

Because he loves the little birds,

I know he loves me too.

It’s a confident, happy little piece, assuring the singer that we are loved by God.

In the Saskatchewan church of my childhood we sang without instrumental accompaniment but some worshipers were able to sing alto, tenor or bass. The singing seemed to fill the small sanctuary.

It was similar for Kathleen in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where she grew up. The Sunday Evening services in both of our churches featured lots of congregational singing.

It has been said that the early Methodists learned their theology through their hymns. Now these two aging Methodists find our songs and their lyrics bless us today. And we continue to review and deepen our theology in this way.

Take,  for example the following stanza from Charles Wesley’s, theology-rich, O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing:

He breaks the power of canceled sin,

He sets the prisoner free;

His blood can make the foulest clean;

His blood availed for me.

“Canceled sin?” That’s justification. “Prisoner?” Our fallen nature makes us captive to sin. “Sets the prisoner free?”  That’s regeneration by the Holy Spirit. “His blood?” That’s the atoning ground for our salvation. “For me?” The efficacy of the blood of Christ is personally claimed.

In our troubled times we need faith-renewing, soul-nurturing songs playing quietly in our heads often, even much of the time. The world otherwise seems raucous and ridden with conflict.  

To counter this clamor with silent music may take concentrated effort at the start, but Kathleen and I would say cultivating the habit is abundantly worthwhile.

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Photo credit: Melissa Himpe (via flickr.com)

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3 thoughts on “The Question Kathleen and I Often Ask Each Other

  1. I enjoyed your article today! Yes, I often have songs that come to my mind at different times. I can’t always remember all of the words to SING every stanza, but I can PLAY it in many different keys, adding new chords, trumpet sounds for emphasis (‘It Is Well With My Soul’), soothing string sounds for assurance (‘Blessed Quietness’) ….whatever…..all in my head, of course! Reading all the stanzas of a hymn is a welcome addition to my quiet times. I think of you folks often and pray you are staying well. My family has many fond memories of our 8 years in Greenville when your family was there! I am very grateful for those days!

    • Hello, Marilyn: What a delight to hear from you. I’m not surprised at your comments because I know that all your life you have loved and played the music of the church. And now you tell me that like us you have a private music studio in your head where you worship. We too. We are doing quite well for our age. Kay will be 92 on Thursday of this week and that will put us both on the same scale. We are in our own home and I still drive my car so we’re not completely locked up though you can imagine we are more limited than we are used to being. We also remember Greenville warmly. Kathleen sends her greetings along with mine across 550 miles.

  2. The hymns and gospel songs that permeated my life have been a wonderful resource as the years have flown by. When I lie awake at night I usually soothe my spirit with mentally reviewing the rich, meaningful worship songs that are truly a “balm in Gilead”. Memories of the rich harmonies that now are often lacking are enriching beyond words. I feel blessed to have this in my heritage.

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