Creation of the Heart: The soul language of music

Sometimes RL4B means relentlessly listening for beauty (Here's an earlier post about it).

Part I -- Formation

I can’t be sure of the year this story began, but it must have been around 2008 or 2009 because that’s when the guest song leader at church brought her guitar and sang calming, centering songs during prayer time. She made me think of Norah Jones or Jewel as I settled into the peace of the moment.

I also can’t be sure of where I first found the Psalm, but since I have a distinct memory of it printed on a folded piece of white paper, it was probably on a worship program that I’d brought home.

The verse was a modified NKJV translation of Psalm 130:5-6. It’s a prayer for mercy and forgiveness, and it’s a statement of hope and faith in God and redemption.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word, I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord. More than those who watch for the morning - Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.”

The words resonated with me, and I decided to memorize them. With the guitarist’s style in mind, I created a tune that fit the words, imagining what the psalmist had intended for the song.

My only musical training was in how to sing simple songs for middle school choir, so I just started by humming notes that sounded good. My range was limited, and I kept the melody narrow and easy. I changed a couple of the words to smooth it out and make it flow. 

When I was finished, the song became a centering prayer.

My soul waits for the Lord, my soul waits, 

and in God's word, I find hope. 

My soul waits for the Lord, my soul waits. 

More than those who watch for the morning

More than those who watch for the morn’

I sang it to myself, usually at bedtime, over and over. It brought me peace and hope for many years.

A morning sunrise
A morning sunrise

Part II -- Creation

In March of this year, I began to read the scripture for my daily Lenten devotional. Half way through, I realized it was Psalm 130. I'd forgotten the Scripture reference completely, and my original centering habit had faded and been replaced by other practices. I didn’t recognize it what I was reading until I got to the line, “more than those who watch for the morning.” I inhaled sharply as the surprise hit me. I put my hand over my mouth, enchanted. That’s my song!

I stopped and closed my eyes. The tune I had created at least twelve years ago came back instantly, and I sang it to myself as if no time had passed.

What some may call coincidence here, I saw as a glimpse of the Divine. I took comfort in the memory and in the song’s hopeful message. I sensed I was being called to do something with it, and an unusual idea popped into my head. What if I could record the song?

Without any musical skills, I would need to ask for help. A name immediately came to mind. I’d recently gotten to know the lead vocalist of the church’s band. Kath is a compassionate and kind woman who records spoken voice parts professionally. I felt safe reaching out to her, so I sent her a text and set up a time to visit on the phone.

I explained the song I'd made up and asked if she could put the tune to guitar and sing it for a recording. I waited on the edge of my seat for her response. Was it too crazy? Did she have time to help? Could it even be done?

“Lisa, I’d be honored to help.” Kath’s smooth and relaxed voice calmed me. She asked me to sing it for her a couple of times, and she recorded it over the phone. She wrote down the lyrics as I repeated each line. As a final question she asked, “What do you plan to do with the song?”

“I don’t have anything big in mind. I just want to be able to play it back for myself.” I paused to reflect deeper, but I left unspoken my progressive weakness and difficulties with singing. I imagined Kath's gentle smile as she told me she understood.

Over the next four weeks, Kath worked her magic, collaborating with other musicians, consulting me on an initial draft with minor lyric changes, and diligently solving the puzzle of writing the sheet music and composing the guitar accompaniment.

Just over a month after asking her to take on the project, Kath sent me the final recording. I was excited and nervous as I clicked the play button. I closed my eyes and listened to the ethereal and peaceful tune. 

I felt a warmth in my core that reached my soul. 

It was exactly how I'd heard it in my mind when I'd imagined it over a decade ago. Kath had taken my creation out of my head and made it a real song. It was beautiful.

Part III -- Completion

On October 25th, my phone rang. When I saw Kath's name, I assumed she was calling about Stephen Ministry, a group for which we both volunteered.

Instead, she explained that in her role with the church band, she'd had a meeting with the pastor about the musical selections for an upcoming Sunday worship. The service would be in honor of All Saints Day where we remember those in the church that have passed away during the last year.

"Pastor Eric asked if I had special music for the service, and I thought of your song. I played a little for him and he loved it."

My face flushed with wonder and surprise.

Kath continued. "Can I have your permission to use your song for worship? It's okay if you want to take time to think about it."

Joy and gratitude rushed in, like someone had opened the tap to full blast. I couldn't speak my answer fast enough to keep up with my mind. And I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I had written a song that could be performed.

I managed to grasp words for a reply. "Of course you can use it! Yes! Thank you for your consideration in asking my permission, but I will always say yes to singing it for our church."

Kath thanked me and agreed to be in touch. When I hung up, tears pricked my eyes. I couldn't believe that my song would be shared with others. I felt God's presence in that moment and I was humbled.

On November 7th, I watched the live worship service online. When it was time for communion, I listened as Kath played a slower, instrumental version of my tune. 

Then (after waiting through internet technical difficulties) I watched Kath introduce my song and invite the congregation to sing along. My soul was warmed again as the notes permeated the space like tendrils of sweet-smelling incense.

The video starts with Kath singing and playing during communion. My full song with printed lyrics is at the 6 minute mark.

A few days later, the pastor thanked me for my song and told me he'd heard from several parishioners that it was moving and meaningful.

With my hand on my heart, I marveled at the serendipitous course of my song. I was humbled and grateful that God was able to use it for a higher purpose.

Sometimes you need to create what’s on your heart and then offer it up to The Universe. This can magnify your work, and it will place your creation exactly where it’s needed to make a difference.

What's on your heart to create?

How can you stay open to the opportunities make and share it?


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