As I prepare for another performance, one we are calling a Concert and Sing-a-Long, I rest for a moment in gratitude for the Soul connection that making music is for me. And the words of one of my favorite hymns rise to the fore of my consciousness.
My life flows on in endless song above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real though far off hymn that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing.
It sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing!
The folksong and hymn, “How Can I Keep from Singing,” is well-traveled in religious and the SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) communities. Enya has a popular recording of it. Now in the public domain, it was first published in 1868 under the names Pauline T (lyrics) and Robert Lowry (music). The Quakers adopted it as their own.
The 19th century phrasing has a far off echo, but the feeling expressed is immediate and present. When I sing I am transported to a space at once far and infinite and present as the air vibrating my chest and throat. Seeing what the eyes cannot be see, I find the universe in a single grain of sand, to echo William Blake in "Auguries of Innocence," a sentiment I put in “Ocean Song.”
I've been singing Ocean Song a lot lately. It's been reborn for me as I started playing it in open D tuning. It's a kind of meditation for me. I play and I sing, and a sea of rhythm and vibration roll me into a space where all is well and nothing is wrong.
I recall George Harrison once saying, “Take the music, it's the best of me.” I paraphrase from memory, but I know the feeling, which is of course why I remember. Take the music.
“Up above my my head I hear music in the air . . . I really do believe joy is somewhere,” sings Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I hear it up above, and way down low too, here, there, and everywhere. So now, let us sing. Let us sing!