Sunday, August 6, 2006

It's official: Quakers can sing!

Today I played guitar for the first time in at least 15 years. It wasn't easy. Somehow I had to find time to relearn chords and strums and grow callouses on the fingertips of my left hand. (If you're a guitar player, you know what I mean.) Along with other members of our monthly meeting, I had promised to take a turn teaching First Day class during the summer so the regular teachers could have some time off. I had noticed awhile back that the kids and grown-ups could use some ...encouragement...when it came to singing. So I thought I'd dig out my old music ministry stuff and teach a few songs, accompanying myself on the guitar.

I started preparing for today way back in March. I got my guitar restrung, bought a capo and a supply of picks, and a new guitar strap. Then I promptly put the guitar back in its corner.... Seeing the date approaching, I finally got down to business about 6 weeks ago. Even the easiest chords were agony to play. What's more, I had a hard time remembering a 4/4 and a 2/4 strum! Fortunately, I picked the right songs ... with a capo, they could all be played in D (except for those pesky F and Bm chords!). By humming and tapping out rhythms to myself during the last week or so--hopefully, no one was watching-- I figured out the strumming patterns. I had everything pretty much nailed down by the other day.

The songs:
  • "This is the Day" and "I Heard the Lord Call My Name," from Songs of Praise, Book 1. -- Simple melodies and repetitious lyrics ... very easy to learn! How was I to know that my brief career playing for a charismatic congregation was preparing me for today?
  • Sebastian Temple's setting of the "Prayer of St. Francis." Though probably one of the most popular contemporary hymns in Catholic circles, my newfound F/friends had never heard it! I showed the kids a picture of St.Francis and told them how he tamed the wolf of Gubbio.
  • "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" -- Who doesn't know that one??? After struggling with chords and strums on the first 3 songs, I decided to accompany this one simply with clapping.
I guess I've been a bit up tight and worried about how things would go, because last night I had a whopper of a bad dream. I was playing not in our little schoolhouse, but in an amphitheater (obviously the result of having gone to see the movie A Prairie Home Companion last evening). I flubbed everything, the kids got bored and walked off as I shuffled sheet music and tried to execute chords, and a colleague whose judgment I most dread in the whole world was in the audience -- and she's not even a Quaker! I figure God was having a bit of fun with me while putting my fears to rest. I realized that no matter how ineptly I played, it wouldn't be anything like the fiasco in my dream!

It was fun. And now I want to play some more!

And I'm happier than I've been feeling during these last two weeks of bad news from the Middle East.
This is the day that the Lord has made
Let us be glad and rejoice in it!


  1. It's great returning to a former love. As the old saying goes: it you don't use it, you lose it. Fortunately, we can regain it and get those old brain synapses rewired again! :)

  2. I had forgotten how good singing makes me feel!


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