For the past three months I have been posting a little something every day. When we began this season of isolation, it seemed like a good thing to do. A way to connect, a way to offer a tiny bit of encouragement, a way to collect and express my own thoughts, fears, joys and creativity.
I have learned a few things. The most important, for me, is understanding that we all feel insecure and afraid – about who we are, what we do, our talents, our skills, our security, our relationships. When the foundations of our lives are threatened or shaky, we need each others’ reassurances, guidance and support. I’ve learned that kindness is an aspiration of many. We are not always successful, but most of us wish to be kind and efforts are made in a multitude of ways, every minute of every day, to be better. I’ve learned that strength comes in many different forms. It is not as we are told it is, residing in the loudest voice, most powerful position or most visible source. It is beyond what the media suggests or our leaders proclaim. It is soft and gentle; solid, resilient and clear. It is that which carries rather than shoves, nurtures rather than schemes, gives rather than takes.
And now, I am encouraged, but I am tired. It is time for a break. I hope these posts have been of some comfort. Perhaps I will return at some point, but for now I wish only the best in the midst of a strange time. Look for kindness in the faces of everyone you meet. Allow it to shine through your eyes, your hands and your heart. It is worth the effort and will not leave you disappointed or alone.
We have come to the end of my year of song. So I give you a doxology. The word doxology comes from two Greek words – doxa, which means ‘glory’ and logia, which means ‘saying’. So it combines to mean a short statement of praise usually added to the end of canticles, psalms and, fittingly for this situation, hymns.
This has been an interesting year. When I began this project I really didn’t consider it to be anything more than a means to motivate myself to do music. A deadline, of sorts, that would force me to work at something I wasn’t obligated to do – having no boss to please or paycheque to earn for my labours. Well, it did that, and then some.
I have learned many things this year.
I have learned that people love hymns. They are old and some may find their words and music outdated, but many of us love them anyway. Many of us are comforted by their familiarity; by the depth of their texts and by the history that has carried them to us. There are truths to be found whether we agree with every word or not. This is one of the great beauties of art – be it musical or poetic, visual or literary. There is more there than appears on the surface.
I have learned that it is possible to find beauty in places I had thought ugly. Some of these hymns were not my favourites. In asking others for their suggestions, I hadn’t considered what I might receive! To be perfectly honest, I genuinely disliked some of these hymns when I started. I didn’t like all the tunes and I definitely had serious challenges with many of the texts. But in the end, I am deeply grateful for having been gifted with the task of finding meaning despite my personal tastes, beliefs and perspectives. What a valuable lesson.
I have learned that I am part of a community. One that is both easily and not easily defined. One that has become a little larger over this year. It contains both friends and strangers; people with diverse beliefs. It has overwhelmed me with support. Time and again I have received incredibly kind words from many of you. Continued sharing of personal experiences related to these hymns. Encouragement regarding both the arrangements and the thoughts I’ve shared. Endless positivity. In a world where one often hesitates to read a ‘comments’ section, I have had exactly zero negative or critical responses to this project.
So beauty, community and the a shared appreciation of these hymns. Pretty good reward for the task. Pretty good flow of blessings.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.