Friday, August 15, 2008

A vespers moment

I found this video clip at my friend Mags' blog today. Four of my favorite artists, in one of the loveliest collaborations I've heard. And the tune, O WALY WALY, is an old folk tune from the British Isles that appears in many, many places, probably including the hymnal sitting in your pew rack. Beloved and I had it at our wedding, with this beautiful lyric by Brian Wren (interesting interview with him here):

When love is found and hope comes home,
sing and be glad that two are one.
When love explodes and fills the sky,
praise God and share our maker’s joy.

When love has flow’red in trust and care,
build both each day that love may dare
to reach beyond home’s warmth and light,
to serve and strive for truth and right.

When love is tried as loved-ones change,
hold still to hope though all seems strange,
till ease returns and love grows wise
through list’ning ears and opened eyes.

When love is torn and trust betrayed,
pray strength to love till torments fade,
till lovers keep no score of wrong
but hear through pain love’s Easter song.

Praise God for love, praise God for life,
in age or youth, in calm or strife.
Lift up your hearts. Let love be fed
through death and life in broken bread.

I think O WALY WALY is a really good example of the fruitlessness of the argument about musical style that keeps popping up in churches. This tune is 500 years old. It's worn incredibly well, and fits seamlessly in this 20th-or-21st-century performance. It also sounds great on guitar or piano or organ, sensitively played. It's beautiful in a cappella harmony, and it's lovely in a good congregational unison. We don't have to argue about musical style; we just need to know how to sing it authentically, how to lead it invitingly, and how to hear it more fully. We are ALL singers.

Relax, folks. This isn't "rocket surgery" (ha ha)--music is food, and it's FUN. :-) It's also an unparalleled vehicle for those things that run too deep for words. And in order to fully experience that, listening can't be your only level of musical experience. There's too much richness in the country just beyond!

So...let's take a minute here. Turn off the lights in your room, light a couple of candles, get quiet and really listen to this. Then play it again and sing along. Invite the family to join you!

To paraphrase Baron de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, it's the taking part that matters. Let this lovely music live in you tonight. To paraphrase the Psalmist, make a joyful noise unto the Lord; it doesn't have to be a perfect one!


FranIAm said...

Oh that was amazing- and your post is so on. It should be read and understood in churches everywhere.

Deep sigh.

Diane said...

thank you thank you thank you! someday I'd like you to hear: my husband set the Beatitudes (adapted) to the old tune Picardy.

How come he can't get his stuff published?

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Beautiful. I do love that song. Who are the artists? If you said and I missed it, put it down to my being tired. I didn't write (I got an extension), but I did lots of other kinds of work.

Anyway, back to you, thanks for posting the clip. I loved it.

Magdalene6127 said...


Turbo: said...

I'm at work so I can't pull up UTube, but I think I see me some Amy and Emily!!!!!!

Gotta view it when I get home!

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

I too love that tune - in church or a folk song. I always tear up at "but not so deep as this love I'm in - I know not how I sink or swim." you've inspired me to pick up my guitar today!

Shalom said...

We had the Brian Wren version at our wedding of my favorites. Thanks for a great version.