Marvin Repinski: Music — our dreams are awakened

Published 5:15 pm Friday, December 17, 2021

“There’s a song in the air! There’s a star in the sky! There’s a mother’s deep prayer; and a baby’s low cry!  And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing, for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a king!”  (Christmas hymn by Karl P. Harrington, 1861-1953).

Music including expressions, the accompaniment of myriad instruments and the variety of creative ways that voices can be brought together, is a marvel of being a human being! A line from the Dec. 14 obituary column of Leah Rae Bailey, shares many events and loves of her life. One line recalled her source of comfort.  “Snuggled up in her favorite chair, with a good book, a crackling fire, and the sound of a soft piano filling the room.”

The writer of Psalm 92 has left us similar words. “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto his name.  To tell of thy loving kindness.  Upon an instrument of ten strings, and up, on the lute; upon a loud instrument, and upon the harp.”

The grand joy of being surrounded by music of its many forms is to bring serenity, well-being and health to our lives. We have enough medical, spiritual, and psychological information available in our surroundings to know this:  a healthy mind makes for a healthy body and a healthy body makes for a healthy mind. Where does music fit in?  It can be everything!

When the Bible reads, “As much as it is possible, live peaceably with all persons.”  (Romans 12:18.)  When I participate in or am in the audience, or at home when music is part of the palette, I am at peace.  And the logic of music is:  A breathing in one’s self will create a breath that reaches to a larger world!

I’m presently reading a novel by Louise Erdrich, “The Master Butcher Singer’s Club.” It grants grand music insights.

The full revelation of the theme of life and music that the super creative author has created would certainly reward a reading of this novel as would be the satisfaction of reading her other writings!

In reading this sobering but delightful journey of ordinary characters finding depth in their own voices, the enjoyment is that I have marked and counted 10 instances in the novel where music, singing, and harmonizing is invoked.

When a main character, Delphine, is working in a funeral home, she seems uplifted in her work by what? Music.

Here’s the larger scenario.  “He called me an undertaker — you know how I hate that.”  In the basement surrounding, conversing with Clarisse, an onlooker to a body’s preparation, was unsettled by the procedures.”  In one corner, a phonograph record played lovely, swelling opera music as she claimed that the notes had a soothing effect upon the flesh of the bodies she was working on, causing them somehow to absorb the fluids she pumped into them more evenly.  She swore it was true, but perhaps her current client did not appreciate opera music.”

We may be in strange lands with these events, but remember the main story is about how a group of men who butchered and prepared animals are the participants of a glorious singing club!

When reading the creatively written details of the worker’s lives, in the non-hospitable, grubby, smelly, gritty work in a slaughterhouse, I was pushed to realize how music can be of those workers, and did not let surroundings detour the voice’s gifts.

Think on Eleanor Roosevelt and her wisdom: you gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face — you can do the thing you think you cannot do.”  It’s part of the reason I support the “I’ll never learn to play that instrument in person, to start, one note at a time, to finally, even play without a score!”

A quality attributed to the poet and essayist John Ruskin reads, “In our whole life, melody, the music is broken off here and there by rests, and we foolishly think we have come to the end of time.  In the hymns of our lives, we lament that our voices must be silent and our part missing in the music.  Not without design, God writes the music of our lives … it is ours to not be dismayed at the rests.”

What we may agree occurred in history long ago, today is repeated.  “In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moaning.  Earth stood hard as iron.  Water like a stone; snow had fallen, snow on snow.  The hymn’s lines go on to state that a turn of glory may take place and finds those who receive the Good News.  The last line concludes, “What can I give Him; give my heart’”