Category Archives: Song Notes

Who doesn’t love a good love story? Love at first sight. Butterflies. Floating on air. And happily ever after.


Of course not. Not in all the ways we want. We’ll get into that more next week, but this week we’re celebrating happy exciting beginnings – those feelings that spark and ignite and inspire life-changing action.

The song of inspiration this week (to be released on March 30) is ”Ten Minutes Ago” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Before all the flirting and wooing, something sparks. Before the Prince can marry his bride, he has to find her. And before the legendary movie goes bonkers all over the world, someone has to get an idea.   This is that story…

*Reminder* – As we mentioned last week, this month we are starting a new rhythm of releasing all of the songs on the last Saturday of the month. March’s theme is musical theater and last week’s inspiration was the song “On the Street Where You Live.” Hope you enjoyed Nathan’s ridiculous embarrassing stories.

Did you know that Cinderella is the only Rodgers and Hammerstein musical written for television? Others were adaptations of stage plays. This was designed for the screen. It aired on March 31, 1957. That was 62 years ago.

TV adaptations of stage musicals were common in the mid 50s as this new medium was booming and the networks were seeking good family-friendly material. NBC brought the idea to Rodgers and Hammerstein to create an original made-for-TV production. Being new to this form, they sought advice from a man who was then the “Vice President in charge of color television” at CBS[1]. How’s that for a dated job title?

CBS was a step ahead of them, already wanting to do a similar project, and even having booked the star – a girl who was playing the lead in My Fair Lady on Broadway. Julie Andrews. Heard of her? All they needed was a show. R and H were stoked about collaborating with Julie, so they got right to work on this new venture.

With the industry parameters of a 90-minute program length and six commercial breaks, the story took place in six acts that took Hammerstein seven months to write. Less than six weeks before air date, rehearsals commenced. The recording process consisted of 56 actors, 33 musicians, and 80 other crew maneuvering around in a relatively small studio with four of these giant (as in 300-pounds) color cameras[2]:


(RCA TK-41, via Wikipedia)

Nowadays, movies are made with iPhones, solopreneurs with no tech crew make a living vlogging about their life, and a selfie stick does the job that in 1957 required the muscles of two grown men. We’ve come a long ways.

Normally during the prime Sunday evening time slot scheduled for the film’s broadcast, one would have been tuning in to the now iconic The Ed Sullivan Show, at the time in the 9th of its 23-year run. To plug the premier of Cinderella, Richard and Oscar themselves were guests on the variety show the week before the film aired.

Hours into researching this production I realized something mind-blowing, prompted by this sentence:

“The 1957 premiere had been broadcast before videotape was available, so only one performance could be shown.”[3]


My 21st century brain hadn’t even registered the fact that this original broadcast wasn’t a “film” at all. IT WAS PERFOMED LIVE!!!!   Like – the actors were actually doing their stuff while little Tommy and Barbara and the other 107 million viewers across North America watched from their living rooms! Tell me I’m not the only one who didn’t understand this until now.

The model of live variety and comedy shows made sense, but an actual feature movie for the whole nation to watch? Wow. That’s gumption. We officially have no more excuses for avoiding Facebook Live. Nathan! Get the kids to help you haul out the camera! We’re going live!

The development of tape recording technology evolved in the 50s and 60s such that subsequent film versions have been more widely distributable, but a kinescope of the original broadcast was preserved and you can sneak a peak on YouTube.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of history behind the song. We look forward to sharing it with you later this month!

Fun facts – the 2013 Broadway version starred Minnesota native Laura Osnes, whose husband Nate Johnson went to Northwestern College here in St. Paul when Nathan was there as a student. The 2011 Ordway Theatre production of Cinderella starred Jessica Frederickson, whose husband Aleks Knezevich was one of the original NorrSound Tenors when A Three Tenor’s Christmas was started here at Wooddale. Jessica keeps hitting it out of the park with lead roles at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres


“Ten Minutes Ago” words by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rodgers
<link will be updated after March 30, 2019 when we release all of our recordings for the month. Get the email when they’re ready!>

Ten minutes ago, I saw you,
I looked up when you came thru the door,
My head started reeling, You gave me the feeling the room had no ceiling or floor.

 Ten minutes ago, I met you,
And we murmured our how-do-you-do’s,
I wanted to ring out the bells and fling out my arms and to sing out the news.

I have found her! She’s an angel
With the dust of the stars in her eyes.
We are dancing, we are flying
And she’s taking me back to the skies.

 In the arms of my love, I’m flying
Over mountain and meadow and glen
And I like it so well, that for all I can tell, I may never come down again!

I may never come down to earth again.

On The Street Where She Lived

Starting this week, we are doing things a little differently. Continue to look for our weekly SongNotes every Saturday, however, until the last week of each month they will be more notes less song. On that last week we will release all of the month’s songs in one set.  The SongNotes themselves stand alone as – we hope – messages of joy, beauty, and inspiration.  By the time we bring you the recordings you will have been primed (warned?) and just dying to hear our songs. 

This approach will afford us more flexibility, practicality, and focus as we prepare our weekly offerings to you, so we’re really looking forward to this new rhythm.  Hope you like it.   

Also, the theme for March is musical theater.  We are pretty old school in this regard, so think Lerner/Lowe and Rogers/Hammerstein for now.


Apparently, I get a week off from writing.  While I wasn’t looking, Nathan whipped up this hilarious piece of reminiscence and wisdom. Maybe not wisdom, per se, but it’s possible that after reading these stories you will have a renewed sense of grace for your own crazy antics.

“Hopeless Romantic Meets Real Life”

Featuring “On the Street Where You Live”  (from My Fair Lady)
to be released on March 30, 2019— (We will update the blog post at that time.  If you want it emailed to you, subscribe here.)

By Nathan Bird

This song is one of my favorites.  It has been a go-to song for serenading.  It’s been in the back of my head as I prepare romantic dates with Naomi, and I’ve been asked to sing it for sentimental moments. But some songs can get you trouble.

The song, in and of itself, is lovely.  Its lilting melody, evocative picture of a young man in love, the blissful tension of young love – it’s great, right?  The performance stuck in many of our minds’ eyes is the dapper style and tight vibrato of Eliza Dolittle’s love-struck gent in the 1967 film My Fair Lady.  Part of what draws us into the love story of the tenor that doesn’t get the girl is that the professor, poor professor Higgins, is such a jerk.  I actually hate the end of the story because obviously Eliza Doolittle should’ve gone with the tenor!  I’m a little biased, though.

Part One: College Crooner

Whilst you’re in college and one of two male voice performance majors in the whole school, you’re a freak of nature.  People don’t know how to relate to you in a normal way.  Random fellow students ask you to sing, especially at night when the moon is high.

While there were many times when I’d sheepishly back away from these informal singing requests, there was one time when I was in a more-extroverted-than-usual form and did acquiesce.  “On the Street Where You Live” started flowing out of me.  Unfortunately, I forgot to anticipate how the fellow males in our company would respond to this situation.  They shrank into the shadows, scoffing that Birdman “actually went there.” While the girls were squealing, I prayed that the night sky would mask the red in my face.

Two things I learned that day:
1. Saying no is ok.
2. It’s a good idea think before you speak OR sing.

Part Two: Luncheons and Language

I was asked to sing for a luncheon for some donors at my Christian college.  I decided to sing this song, but I thought I’d dig a little deeper than the usual and do the verse beforehand. “When she mentioned how her aunt bit off the spoon, she completely done me in…” I saw faces begin to turn red.  If they didn’t understand the context of the musical, this was a very strange start to a song.

The tension does not resolve.

“And I never saw a more enchanting farce, than the moment when she shouted…”  Remember lesson number 2 from above? This would have been a good application. In the mind of anyone familiar with the film was the anticipation of the snarky line from Eliza Doolittle. Overcome with excitement at the horserace, she forgets her new proper lady-like behavior and screams “MOVE YAR BLOOMIN’ ARSE.”

Three things I learned that day:
1. Context is everything.
2. Not everyone has seen or appreciates My Fair Lady.
3. Don’t sing songs with foul language – implied or otherwise – for donors at your conservative Christian establishment.

Part Three: Roses and Roads

By my senior year in college I was quite enamored with this Naomi girl and had decided to surprise her with a rose at her bus stop on Valentine’s Day.  This song never came out of me that day, but it was the soundtrack in my head.  The reason was that I was going to be on the street where she lived.

Nine things I learned that day:

  1. Some shops don’t sell single roses, so you can buy a dozen and choose the best one, so it’s ok.
  2. As you are trying to figure out how to surprise your girlfriend with a flower en route to her bus stop, walking back and forth on her street, you really really look suspicious, but you’re holding a rose, so it’s not weird at all.
  3. Sometimes your timing is off and said girl gets on said bus before you can intercept them with said thorny growing smelly thing.
  4. Sometimes you decide to chase buses downtown in traffic and it stresses you out.
  5. Sometimes you learn that you’re not supposed to drive where buses go during rush hour traffic.
  6. Sometimes you get to your target’s school and realize that you can see where the buses are dropping people off, but you can’t get down to where she is and you start driving in places where you’re not supposed to go and you have to back out of them and you start to hate 1960’s college campus design architects.
  7. Sometimes you decide to abort romantic missions and get choked up.
  8. Sometimes your failed attempts at romancing make you late to sight-singing classes.
  9. If you get to school with 11 extra roses on Valentine’s Day, your female classmates won’t hate getting one from you, but don’t tell them it was extra.

So, you see, to us this is more than just a pretty song.   It’s an anthem for hopeless romantics everywhere.  Sometimes it’s ok to feel silly.  Sometimes it’s darling to be dramatic. Sometimes it’s better to think ahead, but even if you don’t, life goes on, nobody dies, and maybe you’ll even render some heart healthy laughs…eventually.


“On The Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady 
Words by Frederick Lowe, Music by Alan Jay Lerner

I have often walked down this street before;
But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.
All at once am I several stories high,
Knowing I’m on the street where you live.

Are there lilac trees in the heart of town?
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?
Does enchantment pour out of every door?
No, it’s just on the street where you live.

And oh, the towering feeling
Just to know somehow you are near!
The overpowering feeling
That any second you may suddenly appear!

People stop and stare. They don’t bother me,
For there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be.
Let the time go by, I won’t care if I
Can be here on the street where you live!


George and Nathaniel.  Names of two American boys growing up a decade apart.

One white.  One black.  Both pianists. Each came to be known by different names. The former was an orphan from New York.  The latter a preacher’s kid born in Alabama.  Music eventually brought the two together.

Rather than finish high school, Nathaniel Adams Cole (1919-1965) decided to take his music career to the next level.  His mom – the church organist – had taught him how to play as a boy. She had an impact on her whole family; four sons all pursued music careers in the 1930s and 40s.  Inspiration surely also came from the likes of Louis Armstrong, one of the many music icons Nathaniel would sneak out to see perform in nearby clubs.

Making a living as a jazz pianist and big band leader, he eventually formed his own band per the request of a club owner. They called themselves the “King Cole Swingsters,” taking a cue from the nursery rhyme: “Old King Cole was a merry old soul.”   Singing was never his goal, but once he got started, people raved about the voice of Nat King Cole.

1946 saw the debut of the 15 minute radio show King Cole Trio Time, and a number of hit recordings followed. Notably, he even got a TV show in 1956, The Nat ‘King’ Cole show on NBC.  After six months, they doubled the show length to 30 minutes. And six months after that, it ended. Despite an array of big name musicians trying to help recruit a national sponsor, the financing wasn’t secured. Shortly thereafter, Cole made the poignant remark that “Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark.” (‘Madison Avenue’ is a term sometimes used in reference to the advertising industry as a whole.)

Much of the country was afraid of the dark. When Cole bought a house in an all-white community of Los Angeles in 1948, the home owners’ association informed him that they didn’t want any “undesirables” around. His response?: “Neither do I.  And if I see anybody undesirable coming in here, I’ll be the first to complain.” He was greeted with a burning cross from the KKK on his new front lawn.

Interestingly, Cole initially avoided much involvement in the civil rights movement or racial issues.  He didn’t want to shake things up, and he even performed for segregated audiences into the fifties – much to the chagrin of peers who longed for him to use his platform to effect change. He eventually did just this, contributing to the Montgomery Bus boycott in ‘56, and helping coordinate efforts for the 1963 March on Washington, among a number of other political and social initiatives.

Jump back a few years to the packed out Lincoln Theater in Los Angeles.  It is 1947. Cole’s delicate vocal style has attracted someone to try to connect with him.  Someone who wants to share a piece of music.  Cole’s manager passes it along to him, and in short order Cole was performing it in his shows. In 1948 it was recorded.  The composer was not seeking fame.  In fact, he was hard to find at all.  There’s not really an address for “under the first L of the HOLLYWOOD sign.”

George Alexander Aberle, born in 1908, had been adopted at age nine and raised as George McGrew in Kansas.  He made his way to California in the 1940s, building on his career as a jazz pianist and band leader – just like Cole. He reached a different audience though.  Aberle played piano at a health food store and raw foods restaurant.  (I would take that job! When our local co-op recruited feedback on their expansion plans, I really should have suggested a piano.)

Following eccentric ideologies and lifestyles strongly emphasizing back-to-nature living, organic vegetarian diets, beard-growing, sandal-wearing, and deep thinking, Aberle and other followers of this lifestyle at the time were termed “Nature Boys.” He even changed his name to eden ahbez, insisting that God and Infinity are the only words that should be capitalized. (He was known to friends as “ahbe” – pronounced “AH-bee” – which, ironically is our oldest daughter’s nickname.) 

As one of America’s early hippies, ahbe roamed the countryside of California, at times making his home, as mentioned, under the famous sign above Los Angeles. “Mostly he slept where he gardened.” (see article below) This is where he was found when the publishers and media wanted to make deals and tell the world the story behind this hot new song.  “Nature Boy” was a No. 1 hit for eight weeks.  Imagine, this nomad of a man, being reviewed by Life, Time, and Newsweek magazines – simultaneously!  He actually had a number of songs that Cole and others recorded over time, as well as his own 1960 solo EP Eden’s Island.

Below is a powerful excerpt about the song, from a 1977 Los Angeles Times article written by Pearl Rowe, ahbez’s sister-in-law. The article gives a keen description of this unique man – it’s worth a read.

“It was a song that touched everyone.  Even the disenchanted buck-hungry stopped to listen and wonder where they had missed the final pay-off in their lives.  It was strange for those days of Cole Porter-like sophistication.  But it grabbed the imagination of a world still stunned by a terrible war and then a peace that never really came, a time when no one could find answers so they hopefully clung to the sweet philosophy of someone who had come from nowhere and soon belonged everywhere.”  From the Los Angeles Times calendar – Sunday July 24 1977.

“…It grabbed the imagination of a world still stunned by a terrible war and then a peace that never really came…”

ahbez was once asked about his perspective on race relations in America. He answered,

“Some white people hate black people, and some white people love black people, some black people hate white people, and some black people love white people. So you see it’s not an issue of black and white, it’s an issue of Lovers and Haters.”  source

If ahbez had had his way, the lyrics for this song would have been “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved, just to love, and be loved.”  Poetically not as fitting, but it does eliminate the implication of a deal being made.  As ahbez said “To be loved in return, is too much of a deal, and there’s no deal in love.” source

In February of 1965, Nat King Cole died of lung cancer at the age of 45. Thirty years later, in March of 1995, at the age of 85, eden ahbez died after a car crash.

Between the two of these men – the eccentric mystic vagabond, and the famous jazz professional – one white, one black, both socially ‘othered’ – is a snapshot of diversity and unity and collaboration and unexpected success.  The strangeness of it all is rather endearing.

“Nature Boy” by eden ahbez

There was a boy
A very strange, enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far
Very far, over land and sea

A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he 

And then one day
One magic day he passed my way
While we spoke of many things
Fools and Kings
This he said to me:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.”

Listen to our recording of this song:


featured image: elijah macleod via

Wikipedia –
Nat King Cole

eden ahbez

Nature Boy

Frequently our friends at church request that Nathan or the choir sing more southern gospel style music. Here ya go.

February is African American History month, a time to be intentional in learning from and about the black people who share and empower our great nation. Gospel music has its roots in the music of African slaves in America.  Here is our honoring of that heritage with a song. Please keep reading below…

“The Gospel of Grace”  ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘I’m New Born Again’ arranged by Mark Hayes

Nathan and I live in the racially diverse community of North Minneapolis. We have begun to ask some questions of ourselves regarding our identity as white people and the assumptions we make about what it means to be black or what it means to be white.

One of those assumptions was challenged last week.


I sit on the Site Council for our local elementary school. At our last meeting we were discussing some of the plans for how to highlight African American History throughout the month. It’s an important theme for all of the kids to understand more about the respective heritages of their classmates. Being that this school is 70% black, February is significant. As some ideas were thrown around about performances, or parents visiting, I kept feeling myself getting stuck by a thought that I finally voiced:

“Sure, there are things that Nathan and I can do that are from African American culture, but I don’t feel qualified to present information about black history and culture, being that I am very not black at all.”

I don’t like to do things wrong. It’s embarrassing.  To try to be helpful but find I’m just making a fool of myself -ugh! These were the hesitations I had about being a voice in the conversation about Black History.  What kind of crazy white people offer to perform a gospel medley to a group of black people? As if we have anything to offer. It seems dangerously cliché. It potentially reeks of naivety (the even more evil twin of ‘doing things wrong’). It feels smug and hints at “let me tell you how it’s done.”

While my concern was received with some understanding, I was promptly schooled by the two African American men in the group:

“It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are able to share something, and the kids can learn something. As a result, they can say, ‘Hey, I heard this because of African American History month.’”   (my paraphrase)

I was kind of taken aback. They were empowering me with the realization that it’s not about me. It’s about who we are honoring. What’s important is to be spreading awareness, encouraging curiosity, featuring specific cultures, and being a voice in the conversation.

What I had been focused on is the chasm between my skill set and the black music style. On one side is the fact that we are classically trained musicians who primarily rely on printed notes to guide our performance. On the other side of the chasm is the reality that African American music is not from that vein at all. There isn’t notation sufficient to encapsulate the cry in the riff of an African American Spiritual.  

Back on “my” proverbial side – I am rather reserved when it comes to physicality and expressiveness. African American culture is one of more voice, more movement, more color, more of a lot of things than what is normal for my temperament.

With all these difference, what can I even do?

One option is to sit on the sidelines and let others – the “more qualified” – tell the story.

Another option is to pressure myself to learn more, practice more, and try to earn the qualifications to speak up (in the meantime feeling the weight of not-enough-ness)

Or, with the mindset of giving honor where it is due, I can right now reach into my current tool kit, bring out the skills that I have, and use them as mirrors to reflect the beauty and dignity of that something, even if it feels foreign.

Here is a bit of irony.  Whenever Nathan breaks into song around the house, playing with the kids or cleaning, it is almost always in the style of gospel or blues or jazz.  This Swedish homeschooled boy defaults to the soul of the spiritual. Now if that’s not influence I don’t know what is!

P. S. The featured artwork this week is by 9 year old Lina, the daughter of a friend of ours.  She did just what we are talking about here. She reached into her toolbox of drawing skills and washable markers and honored the people she admires.




P. P. S. If you’re a research nut, you may like this Library of Congress collection of sound recordings of blues and gospel songs.


“The Gospel of Grace”  ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘I’m New Born Again’ arranged by Mark Hayes

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed.

I found free grace and dying love, I’m new born again,
been long time a-talkin’ ’bout my trials here below.
Free grace, free grace, free grace, sinner.
Free grace, free grace, I’m new born again.

So glad, so glad, I’m new born again,
been a long time a-talkin’ ’bout my trials here below.

My Savior died for your and me, I’m new born again,
been a long time a-talkin’ ’bout my trials here below.
I know my Lord has set me free, I’m new born again,
been a long tie a-talkin’ ’bout my trials here below.

Free grace, free grace, free grace, sinner.
Free grace, free grace, I’m new born again.

So glad, so glad, I’m new born again, 
been a long time a-talkin’ ’bout my trials here below.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
that when we’ve first begun.

I’m new born again!

Featuring the 1904 Edward Stanley song “When My Golden Hair Has Turned to Silver Gray”

After last week’s rather heavy post, we are happy to be having more fun with this week’s song – just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Apparently older songs have a lot more words than newer ones.  The last song we posted  was basically verse-chorus-chorus-chorus-chorus-chorus-chorus.  I’m exaggerating a little. This week’s song is a gem that we found amidst stacks of old – like over a hundred years old – music that a dear man from church passed along to us because for some reason he thought we would be interested.  He was right!

It’s like Anthropology 101, a time capsule, and an art gallery archive all in one.

This particular song, “When My Golden Hair Has Turned To Silver Gray,” paints a narrative of a young couple’s journey to not-so-young-ness. As Valentine’s Day approaches, it seems only fitting to ponder the meaning of love today in some way or another.  We even offer our own relationship advice inside the song. Find out how to strengthen your marriage at 1 minute and 58 seconds in!

As a side note, the very week that I accepted the position as organist at my church, I discovered approximately 11 new gray hairs. My old soul is affecting my body!

Honestly though, I have *almost* no qualms about going gray.  My mom has been silver-haired for as long as I remember, and wherever we go she gets compliments about how gorgeous it is.

This is my mom and me when I was probably three years old:

little naomi and mom - cropped

What you might not know, is that my mom is totally leading a fashion trend: Really important related article, click here.

As you head into this next week, whether with golden or brunette locks or gray – or none whatsoever – know that we love you!

P.S. Thanks again to our friend Will for the treasure trove of music!

P.P.S.  Please check in before sending us the contents of your mother’s attic.

“When My Golden Hair Has Turned to Silver Gray”
(words and music by Edward Stanley, originally published in 1904.)

They were wand’ring in the moonlight
On a lovely summer night,
Were planning for their future home,
Their happiness so bright,
And he told her how he loved her,
And from her he ne’er would part, –
She was his hope, his life, his all,
His true sweetheart.

 She whispered that “no other one
Could win the love she gave,”
She said, “she’d cling to him thro’ life,
Until she reached the grave.”
But a question she would ask him:
“Could life be the same alway?
Would he ever cease to love her?
When her golden hair was gray?”

When my Golden hair has turn’d to silver gray,
When the years have come and quickly rolled away,
Will you love me then as now,
Will you kiss my furrowed brow,
When my golden hair has turn’d to silver gray?

 Soon they settled in a cottage,
In a green and shady grove,
They worked and saved and battled on,
But never ceased to love,
There was true love by their fireside,
There were baby faces dear,
That came and grew to manhood
With their ripening years.

One evening by their bright hearthstone
He stroked her silver hair,
And said “He’d love her all thro’ life,
As on that evening fair,
When she whispered in the moonlight
“Could life be the same alway?
Would he ever cease to love her
When her golden hair was gray?”

en your golden hair has turn’d to silver gray,
When the years have come and quickly rolled away,
I will love you then as now,
I will kiss your furrowed brow,
When your golden hair has turn’d to silver gray?


In honor of February being Black History Month we’ve got a gospel medley coming next week!

What makes your day?   If we made part of it special in some way, we ask you to please let us know

After your visit (or Skype session) with your grandkids, when the dishes are done, and you’re ready to top off your day with a good book or movie, ask yourself which books and movies you tend to share with others. Which songs make you smile? And who do you like to smile with?  

Our hope is that our songs cause you to pause, think, smile, and feel better, especially as you journey big changes in your life – like changes in hair color, among other things.

If you want someone else to hear our songs and words, please share. Thanks a bunch!

If you missed our pre-announcement about Patreon last week, here’s the low-down.

Today’s song is in a rather different form than what we intended. Actually, what would have been really perfect for this week would have been, as our brother-in-law so aptly suggested, the song:
baby it's cold outside.jpgThis sign hangs in our back hallway. I always like to keep it up a bit past Christmas as the winter continues, but yikes this week’s polar vortex was a doozy.  What was it – a 23 year record?  I think we Minnesotans should all get badges, or certificates, or some sort of award just for living here.

That isn’t our song for this week though. Our song is “You Raise Me Up,” made famous by Josh Groban. You get an inside peek at a more rough version than we had set out to produce.  Ups and downs and sideways brought us on a detour of a journey.

These weekly songs and emails have become an axis for us, centering our focus and helping us learn more about the people with whom we share our music. Even though perfection is intentionally not one of our goals, we do usually like to give something that is free of, well, counting aloud. But that is what you get here – more of a rehearsal run through. It was the scratch track that we listened to for recording the separate tracks to combine a la technology.  Oh technology.  The words of this song have grown into something intensely personal for us this week and the thought of scrapping it all was ridiculous.  The crazy thing is that the quality of the sound was better in this quick simple sit-down-and-sing recording than all of the fancy things we were trying to do to make it greater.

Technology wasn’t our only trouble.

A deep darkness enveloped me. The tears flowed and screams flew and everything looked impossible.

As time passed, as dust settled, and as teeny tiny slivers of the suggestion of an inkling of a possibility of the shadow of hope eeked their way toward me I began to breathe a little more.

I was down. I probably will be again some day.
I was weary. That’s inevitable.
I was troubled. There’s always something.
My heart was burdened. The weight is just too much to bear.

So I sat. Slept. Drove. Sat some more. Slept some more. Waiting. Waiting for it to pass, for the fog to lift.

This week Nathan met me.  My mom met me.  And in them, God sat with me.

As my breaths became deeper and my steps became surer, I was met again.  I’m not one to always tout the “no such thing as coincidence” line, but you have to admit that this morning could not have been a more perfect time for this particular podcast meditation that I selected.  We had already planned on releasing this song. We had endured the bumpy road of the recording snafus and personal wreckage. As I listened, on my yoga mat, I was stunned at the timeliness.

Here are some of the words that hit me most…

“Expect to be distracted by the earth.”
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
“God might use you to help someone else lift their eyes from earthly noise and chaos to heavenly peace.  How can you help someone else experience what is above?”
“Lord God, help me choose what is above.”
You have been raised up with Christ, so keep seeking the things above.” (Col 3:2)

I want so badly to manage myself well. I want to be productive.  I want to be positive.  I want to be hopeful.  And I want to not fight my war with depression on a regular basis.

Sometimes my mountain is about the size of a step stool, but compared to the hole I just crawled out of I practically scaled Everest. Sometimes my stormy seas are about the depth of a full sink of dishes, but I might as well have surfed a tidal wave.  Sometimes the shoulders I stand on are themselves shaking with sobs.

And in our quaking togetherness we become more than we can ever be on our own.

If this song touches you at all, would you be so kind as to share it with someone who may need a lift? Would you, through this, sit with them and wait?

“You Raise Me Up” (Words and Music by Brendan Graham and Rolf Lovland)

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When I am down, and oh, my soul’s so weary

When troubles come and my heart burdened be

Then I am still and wait here in the silence

Until you come and sit a while with me.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains.

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas.

I am strong when I am on your shoulders.

You raise me up to more than I can be.

A couple other songs of ours that you may like:

Better Than I (From Joseph King of Dreams)

The Curse (From Rigoletto)


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click here to play song on SoundCloud
“If With All Your Hearts” from the oratorio Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn

For a moment, I want to say, “Thank You.” You, our audience member, our listener, our reader, are why we do this. Thank you for being on the other side of that screen and for giving thought to the chance that music matters.
We really like you.

This aria comes at a point in the Old Testament narrative where the people were in utter despondency because of the drought that God had brought on the land.  Mendelssohn chose to smoosh together with a dash of creative license, two other biblical texts for this aria’s lyric; Joel 2:12 and Job 23:3.

The two were written centuries apart.  Joel and Job weren’t buddies.  Also, neither context has anything explicitly connected with Elijah’s story.  However, in juxtaposing these two texts Mendelssohn captures something totally human, the internal conflict between our awareness of God’s nature, and our state of being.

This aria swings back and forth between the voice of God and the thoughts of man. God says through the prophet, (actually quoting Joel, my paraphrase) “If you’re all in, I’ll meet you there.  I don’t want you half-way.”  The other flavor present is the prophet quoting Job (again my whine-implied paraphrase); “I wish I could just come talk to you because I really think if you just knew my side of the story you’d understand.”

When we were dating, we help lead a youth group in producing a staged dramatic reading of the entire book of Job.

The story goes like this: God allowed Satan to do lots of horrible things to Job to test Job.  Job’s friends, and even his wife, and Job himself are trying to explain away why all of this is happening and God shows up in the end and says, “I’m God, you’re not going to figure me out,” and goes on to learn ‘em good.

Despite the reality that God’s ways are past finding out, the pursuit of Him with our entire hearts is a good way to live life.  Or at least to try.

‘If with all your hearts ye truly seek Me,
Ye shall ever surely find Me.’
Thus saith our God,

Oh! That I knew where I might find Him,
That I might even come before His presence!

Rabbit Trail Trivia: Mendelssohn wrote the soprano role of this oratorio especially for the Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, who some know of primarily from her part of the story line of The Greatest Showman. (Enjoy the movie, but please don’t tell yourself that that is actually what she sounded like. Thank you.)

Coincidentally, the local public school where our kids attend is named after this famed singer.  I find this ironic, considering that the student population now is approximately .000000001% Swedish. Don’t quote me on that. You get the point. Being in the minority is a new experience for us, unless you include homeschooling. But even then, when assessing the ethnic representation in our kids’ respective classes, they were definitely in the majority.

Previous post: Bring Him Home, from Les Misérables 

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