I have sung all my life. School Choirs, Church Choirs, solos. Music and singing have been like food and water to me. They feed my soul.
Over the past few years I have longed to sing with the energy and delight I used to sing with. Pain and constant surgeries have left me physically exhausted and my attempts to sing have often resulted in a croaking flat sound, rather than anything that had any semblance of being uplifting, for me or anyone else! So I stopped singing. I needed to conserve my energy.
This past Christmas I managed to get to a carol service at our Parish. Even getting to church has been impossible thanks to my over active stoma in the mornings. The carol service was in the afternoon and dosed up on pain killers I was determined to get there. It was beautiful. I didn’t know if I would be able to sing at all after being so silent for so long. I didn’t care what I sounded like I wanted to sing, my soul wanted to sing. It was time.
I opened my mouth to sing the words of a familiar carol and sang my heart out. My voice seemed stronger than ever before. It was effortless and I sang carol after carol without feeling any vocal fatigue. I was literally in heaven. After the service my husband said he had never heard my voice sound so beautiful. Resting it for so long was obviously a good thing but it was more than that. I had always sung songs of faith. They are my first love. Somehow though finding my voice when I thought it was lost was such a gift, such a blessing. It was like I hadn’t totally been consumed by my disability, my pain. Somewhere in the midst of everything I was given back the gift of singing.
This week I was listening to a new CD by Celtic Women. I love their music. It is Celtic music and often they sing songs of faith amidst other beautiful traditional Celtic songs. My heart skipped a beat when I heard one of their new songs “How Can I Keep From Singing”. I seemed to know it instantly. I listened closer and I was sure it was an old hymn that I sang as a child. Some of the words seemed slightly different but the message was still clear. No matter the struggle and the pain and the tumult, we have a rock where we can take refuge, so how can I keep from singing. I searched the origins of the song and yes it was a hymn sung in the 1800’s. The slight change to the words were written by Enya but the message remains the same.
I have played the song over and over and over this week. I have also sung it over and over and you know the most amazing thing I realised this morning, is that when I sing, I don’t have any pain.
How can I keep from singing!!
(Original Words from 1868)
My life flows on in endless song;
above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?
2 Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing? [Refrain]