Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Song Wins

Two years ago, the choral group of which I am a member was working on a challenging piece of music. Soon, we will begin this year's rehearsals for a still more advanced piece. And it's not spring right now, snow coming down like powdered sugar being sifted, but I enjoyed being reminded that green will return.

O sing to the LORD a new song: sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Psalm 96:1, 2

            Neither musician nor Latin scholar, I’m struggling with one of the pieces in Joseph Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. The Latin syllables and the eighth notes combine faster than my Anglo tongue can get them out. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that our concert is three days away.
            The Web resource Choral Midi Files has a recording of the work that will hammer out the notes for each part. Daily I’ve been clicking alto on Et Resurrexit, trying to get my mouth to move faster. So far, what has resulted is that I am confident of the notes, and the tune—and surrounding tunes—is playing in my head most of the time, even if I’m foggy on what syllable goes with the tune.
            Et Resurrexit—And he rose. A perfect time of the year to be singing this, between Easter and Pentecost, when the village has passed from its yellow forsythia to its purple redbud and lilac glory. The deer stop by to nibble new leaves and the birds exult each morning.
            This morning I was not exulting. I made three phone calls trying to set up payment plans for my account balances to radiologists, anesthesiologist, and the hospital. Being sick is expensive. All of the people I spoke with were gracious and understanding—but they need to be paid. And I am experiencing one of the dreaded cashflow crunches that comes with being a freelancer.
            So my mood was bleak as I contemplated my walk. I’d intended to walk to the post office, less than a mile away, waiting to start the car until time to leave for tonight’s rehearsal with the orchestra. But I was so down that I decided only the woods and the river would help, and drove the four miles to the trail I felt calling me.
            The woods are always a good idea for me. Little yellow and white flowers, redbud, and Virginia bluebells were out. Three young mothers with four young children were on the trail; one of the children was wearing a kid-sized T-shirt bearing the name of my alma mater. All around me was new life, but in my head I was contemplating whether to sell the car and find a cheaper one to drive.
            My non-rational mind would have none of it. Instead, the mind’s soundtrack had moved past the difficult two pages of Haydn’s Mass and on to a section that makes me smile. Vivos, Vivos, we sing in a way that feels as if we are merrily tossing a beach ball back and forth, even though all the parts are singing it together. Living, living! The deepest part of my being is unconcerned with matters financial, but rollicks like the river beneath the path, thrilled to be alive, whatever the material cost.

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