Today in the middle of my busyness, my anxiety, uncertainty, and my domestic chores I heard the song “Saviour Like a Shepherd Lead Us” by Fernando Ortega. I love that song. As I listened I instantly felt that bittersweet feeling that comes during times of hope and uncertainty — times when life is changing and you don’t know how, but you know that what is happening is wonderful and frightening all at the same time.
That song always reminds me of my parents. They used to sing that song along with the Gaither song “Gentle Shepherd.” So that song fills me with more bittersweet memories — of my childhood that is no more, of my parents care (imperfect as it was), and of the truths that they taught me which carry forward into my future and my children’s future. And of all the songs to hear this morning and this week, that was a good one to hear.
Music does that to me. This week Marc and I are feeling especially busy, tired, anxious, etc, etc, etc. But on the way to Steinbach with Olivia yesterday, I played the Hairspray soundtrack. Even those perky songs almost made me cry as I belted out my best Corny Collins along highway 59.
I guess it’s about “feeling full.” Some weeks just bring more hope and more nervousness than others. And so I feel full in those ways.
My Grandpa died about two weeks before we moved to Manitoba and he asked that the hymn “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” be sung at his funeral. For the first two years of us living here, I could not get through that song in church without crying. It didn’t matter if they did it slow or they did it perky, I would cry/almost weep every time, because it filled me with memories of my Grandpa and his faith (and my doubts, if I’m being honest).
The same can be said of the songs “Softly and Tenderly” and “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” Those are songs that take me back to when my Granny was dying. I somehow managed to get through singing “O Love” with my dad and sister-in-law at Granny’s funeral. Don’t know how I did it. But those songs take me back to the very intense and tiring and love-filled weeks in which Granny was sick and the whole family came together to be with her and eventually say good-bye. Good memories, sad as they are.
The other night I ran across the slideshow that we prepared for Marc’s dad’s funeral last May. The song for it was “This is My Father’s World.” I feel like if I listened to that today, with my emotions already close to the surface, that I’d likely have a good cry over his dad and the memories we shared and the memories we never got to share because of the dementia. “This is My Father’s World” was particularly significant to me when I think of him, because that was the first song in the service the first time his parents came to visit us after Marc and I’d moved to the Covenant church. His dad told me that that was one of his favourite hymns and that he really liked the church and the service, which was important to me.
I was just 10 when my dad’s mom died. That age where you’re just in the middle — not quite understanding but old enough to really feel sad at the loss of someone you love. I remember vividly the singing of “What a Day That Will Be” when they lowered her casket into the ground. I tried not to, but I couldn’t stop crying about the loss of grandma Dynna, and how the hope of “what a day that will be” gave me joy that really hurt.
I don’t remember much about my Grandpa Dynna — I was 5 when he died. But he and my Grandma made tapes of them singing hymns, many of them in Norwegian, and so when I think of songs like “He the Pearly Gates Will Open” (the chorus of which I can sing in Norwegian! Oh yeah!), I think of him and my Grandma.
There are lots of songs that make me remember. Songs that make me full of memories and emotions (good and bad) of times and people that I have loved. And it’s also especially good for me when I am tired and anxious, even if it makes me even more emotional! Music is a strange and beautiful thing.
What songs make you remember?