THIS I BELIEVE: Song
My Mother insisted that I had evacuated her body musical. While inside, I had transformed her vacuous womb into a rehearsal studio. Then I came out: my little baton flailing, my big feet tapping, and my long larynx dirging. I was born singing.
Mother perceived that all four of the Elgin offspring had arrived gifted. Singing as big-voiced as Maria Callas, and ear-playing the piano as professionally as Van Cliburn, she molded us four children into a “Sailor-Suit” quartette. We sang at Talent Shows, and Sunday School pageants. We even performed —without blackened faces then, but with shamed ones now—in “Minstrel Shows.” Mother sang in the Chorus.
Even before my voice had changed, I qualified without tryout for our small Church’s adult choir. While still a juvenile I was beginning to understand that song inspires, instructs and solaces. Choir singing committed me to serve Christ as beauty and truth; hymns and psalms with the Congregation taught me the theology of the Church; my school problems disappeared at Choir Practice.
High School chorus “Operettas” donated me an ego that athletics denied me. As a Senior I was player Number Ten on the Freshman-Sophomore Junior Varsity basketball team. I played number One in the Operettas. No other boy would sing solos or dance jitterbug. Schoolmates anticipated hearing me on the Saturday Night Radio “Hit Parade.” Or seeing me later, “Dancing with the Stars.” Town folk were convinced that instead of being Jimmie Stewart’s next-town neighbor, I would end up his Hollywood next-door neighbor.
God and I fooled the world. Pulpit and chancel became my stage. I was ordained a Minister. I counseled Church music directors to make singing instructive and enjoyable, and a solace as appropriate. Opera, Broadway, Pop, and Reggae also attracted me. Some of it even found friendship at my Church.
David, the handsome, young, athletic, musically talented Israelite shepherd boy intrigued me. Discovered by the Prophet Samuel, and without King Saul’s consent, he had been anointed Crown Prince. During fits of depression and insanity, the King would order the young troubadour-harpist to the palace for solace. David played and David sang; and probably danced. The King relaxed. Later Saul plotted homicide against the farm boy, but he failed. The King died by suicide, David was crowned king and reigned forty years. He continued singing. Many of his lyrics and tunes were chosen for inclusion in the Biblical Book of “Psalms.”
Though my eighty-years’ old voice has now shriveled to “scratch,” I invariably awake in the morning singing. If the tune is not a hymn, I insert a religious disc into my heart. It intermittently winds and rewinds along my daily tails. On occasion it persists till bedtime.
Creed intentionally becomes deed in my “private” Daily Prayer discipline. I sing at least three songs every morning. Psalm 28 is one of my favorites: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults; and with my song I give him thanks.” (Vs. 7.)
I believe that my multi-musically talented Mother’s heart would also exult if only she could hear, “Your Son will join you in song.”
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