Yearning for the Gift of Music
How does a person who can barely tell a quarter note from a Quarter Pounder write a book full of original hymns and faith songs?
- I don’t read music.
- I don’t play any musical instruments.
- My singing qualifies as “joyful noise”
— on a good day.
- I love music.
- I love a good message.
- I love writing verse with strong rhyme and meter.
So I tried writing new words set to old hymn tunes, for a Christmas Eve program at my church. That was fun! Then I thought wistfully, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to write original melodies, too? But I don’t have the ability to do that.”
The Holy Spirit heard. And decided to remind me that nothing is impossible for God!
Receiving the Gift
I showed the text of “Before Us, Alive!” to harpist Lauren Floden over lunch at a Christian coffeehouse where Lauren and my soprano daughter, Theresa, were performing together. I explained my vision for new music to enhance the message of hope from the story of the locked upper room (John 20:19–29). Lauren immediately swapped her sandwich for her harp, and we brainstormed a melody right there at the table. With the Holy Spirit leading, Lauren strumming, and Theresa scribbling notes and chords on a paper napkin, we had a melody before the lunch break was over. (You can hear my final version of “Before Us, Alive!” on the Audio page.)
Suddenly, graciously, the Lord had made creating original melodies possible. Even for me!
Song ideas began to flood my brain when I woke up in the morning, or while I walked the fields on our farm, chatting with the Lord. He gave me ideas for lyrics about faith, with snippets of melodies to go with them, in many different styles. Then he challenged me to fashion his inspirations into songs.
Putting the Gift to Work
Theresa showed me how to set up a song file in Finale, a music notation program. Not being a music maven, I entered notes the hard way: by clicking on each note icon and dragging it up and down a virtual staff on my PC screen until the software played the note that matched the one in my head! A long, tedious process, but it produced sheet music to print out and share.
I tried to add harmonization/accompaniment to the melodies. Unsuccessfully. Finally I acknowledged that the Lord had reserved that particular gift for someone else. He began to assign me other kinds of writing projects instead of music. My season as a songwriter had ended. I put away my twenty-four finished songs, confident the Lord would send me his choice of collaborator when he saw fit.
Today, the songs are still waiting for accompaniments. Are they sitting in a cobweb-covered drawer? Not at all!
Next time: How my songs crossed the ocean without a boat