Gospel Choir Newbie and other reflections on music (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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Watoto Children’s Choir in Canada – 2013 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I cannot remember a time when music wasn’t part of my life. The steel-backed Heintzman that I grew up with— that my mom played with flowing chords and that I attacked at 6 a.m. to practice scales, arpeggios and four-note chords in my Royal Conservatory days—still lives with me.

One of my earliest memories is of Dad, up early to do laundry with Mom. He helped her by pinning the loads of diapers to the clothesline. Between loads, he put on records of rousing gospel music with voices and brass ensembles that drifted into my bedroom.

Singing was an integral part of my Mennonite church and community—rich singing in harmony. From childhood on I sang in choruses and chorales, small groups, and mass choirs. Early in life I learned the pleasure of harmonizing with my alto-range voice, using it cooperatively as part of a many-voiced instrument.

Music is still a huge part of my life. Perhaps it’s no wonder that my Spotify app is a close second behind photos for space used on my iPad. It is also testimony to how music’s delivery has changed—many times over in my lifetime—from records, to 8-tracks, to cassette tapes, to CDs. That Spotify business is evidence of the latest change—one I adopted by necessity.

We listen to music a lot when we travel. So when I discovered, just after we had sealed the deal on a new car in 2016, that it had no CD player, I all but panicked. What would we do for music?

A few days later, through our music savvy son, we discovered the music-sharing behemoth, Spotify and the Bluetooth capability of my iPad and our new Honda. I’ve hardly bought a CD since.

Music is the sound track to many hours of my life, especially those spent in the kitchen. Some of my favourite artists are Matt Maher, Shane and Shane, Audrey Assad, Don Moen, Fenando Ortega, and Andrew Peterson, to begin the naming.

The poem, below, is one I wrote a few years ago, after we joined our church choir which, at the time, was very into singing Black Gospel.

Gospel Choir Newbie

You sing coffee
dark, strong, edgy
your bodies a caffeine choreography
with the Hallelujah beat
and the Praise the Lord bop
and the vamp
and the vamp
and the vamp
Amen!

In me the notes are Sweet Jesus
honey flow over vocal cords
wrap themselves around arms
legs, trunk, hold spellbound
mesmerized, forget
to clap, do those little two-steps
and dips to make
our robes sway
as one.

© 2009 by Violet Nesdoly (first published on VerseWrights)

Now, here’s some Black Gospel that really moves—no out-of-sync forgetting in sight! The Watoto Children’s Choir, is an arm of the Watoto Mission of Uganda.

Beat of Your Love – Watoto Children’s Choir

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey First Thursday, hosted today by Karen Eastlund at Irene Latham’s blog, Live Your Poem.

Thanks Karen & Irene!

Psalm 23 — a lifetime in my Bible margin #BibleJournaling

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I’ve read Psalm 23 many times (perhaps you have too). And so when I saw that David Kitz gave it two chapters in his book Psalms Alive,* I was curious what he’d all find to say about these six familiar verses.

After reading it, my chapters now have many red underlines. Several of those quotes figure in the doodle I call a lifetime in the margin of my Bible.

Ps 23_1-6

Bible art journal entry for Psalm 23 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

The words I printed on the path are a compilation of a couple of sentences from p. 49 which is so true of the Christian life. Working up from the bottom to the top: “Surrendering the leadership role in my life to the Good Shepherd is a daily conscious decision to follow where He leads.”

The many challenges to that daily conscious decision to follow His lead are depicted by the highways (to Ease, Wealth, Pleasure, Fame, Popularity—and I could have added many more) branching off from the narrow road.

Near the top of the path (near the skull depicting the “valley of the shadow of death”) is this bit that I find most comforting: “During our darkest hour He holds us closest” – p. 54.

And finally at the very top, when we’ve reached our Welcome Home banquet and the golden city: “A good life extends through all eternity”– p. 59. (Hallelujah!)

Singer Audrey Assad sings a lovely song based on the memorable phrase “I shall not want” from this psalm. Enjoy!

*The book of Psalms in the Bible and Psalms Alive by David Kitz are the books some friends and I are reading and responding to creatively in a several-week study.

Nourished by music (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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sjt-2017-graphicToday is the first Thursday of September and time for the monthly Spiritual Journey Thursday post. This month we’re hosted by Ramona, who is discussing her one-little-word for 2017 – NOURISH (what a fabulous word!).

One of the first things that comes to mind as soul and spirit nourishment for me is music. Though its delivery has changed over the years (from records, to eight tracks, to  cassette tapes, to CDs to, now, a streaming service), my appetite for and enjoyment of it hasn’t diminished. If anything it has increased.

When I joined Spotify (a music streaming service) a vast array of music was suddenly available to me at a tap of an app. Wow! In browsing around this huge resource, I stumbled on some ready-made playlists of worship music that introduced me to songs and artists I had never heard before. One such was Audrey Assad.

The first song of hers that snagged my attention was “Even Unto Death.” Her beautiful clear voice and the haunting melody begged to be replayed. Then the lyrics of this love song to Jesus captured my heart.

I found the song on YouTube (Audrey’s own channel), sung against the stark but stunning visuals of a snowy landscape. Even more moving, though, is Audrey’s own explanation of her inspiration to write this song—an ISIS video no less!

You can hear the song and Audrey’s explanation of why she wrote it below:

This song, along with others, is now part of my own worship playlist which is growing regularly as I discover more songs that nourish my soul and spirit.

 

Sing … #BibleJournaling

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Music plays a big part in my life. When I’m not doing brain intensive work, I almost always have music playing. I do listen to some oldies from the past, but mostly praise, worship, and gospel music is the sound track of my life.

The challenge to do an art journal project on Psalm 98—a very musical psalm—came from Rebekah Jones (Original Bible Art Journaling Challenge Week 4). She used stamps of piano keys and a musical score to create a stunning illustration for her Bible.

I decided to use my own imagination in a doodle that included some of the instruments mentioned in the psalm, along with others.

When I did this project (mid-May) I had just received a set of water colours and I wanted to try them out. So I treated the page with gesso (though I’ve been told that water colour doesn’t bleed through even without treating).

The image in my mind was a waterfall of music, tumbling down the margin of the page, from my focus verse (conveniently situation at the very top). I included a harp, other stringed instruments, a pipe and, because I think it’s so important to start early, a drawing of the Fisher Price rainbow xylophone my kids loved, along with a child’s drum. Of course people, belting it out had to be in there too, along with notes.

I sketched all with pencil, painted everything in, and used my micron pens to sharpen the details. I highlighted the verse with a BibleJournaling highlighter, coloured the green area beside the waterfall with water colour pencil and then added water to create a wash effect. I finished everything off using my white gel pen to make glistens in the drops.

This is still one of my favourite Bible art journal pieces. It makes me feel like singing!

Ps 98_5-6

Bible art journal project – Psalm 98:5,6: “Sing to the Lord” (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

 

Surrounded by songs #BibleJournaling

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I’ve found several Bible verses to go along with my 2017 word LISTEN. One is Zephaniah 3:17:

“The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Isn’t that beautiful? I had to make an entry for it in my journaling Bible.

The image that comes to mind when I hear that verse is a mother singing to her baby. I decided to try doing a baby sketch, but in a tree. A google image search pulled up a graphic that I somewhat copied.

I found simple bird sketches in The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling and penciled them in freehand, then inked over all the pencil lines with Pigma Micron pens (I have three: .01, .03, .05). I used pencil crayons to do the coloring.

Zeph 3-17(1)

Entry for Zephaniah 3:17 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

A little sequel:
Last week was my birthday. The morning after, as I lay in bed, the thought came to me: I forgot to spend some birthday time with the Lord yesterday.

As I breathed my “So sorry Lord” prayer, it was like He said to me, “That’s okay. I still have a present for you. It’s the music that I sing over you.”

About an hour later, hubby and I were in church at our early morning prayer meeting. We start that time with worship and this morning our leader, Joel, began with the beautiful song “No Longer Slaves” (Bethel Music). It starts:

“You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
All my fears are gone…”

{{Shivers}} What a birthday present! Thank you Lord!!

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Tambourine

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HE IS RISEN
HE IS RISEN INDEED!

tambourine-628021_640

Image: Pixabay

Tambourine

(Inspired by “THE DANCE” a painting by Donna Smallenberg)

Strike me with your hand
beat me on your hip
join harp and lyre band
rejoice with voice and lip

Jingle glad hello
Celebrate goodbye
Let the worship flow
Praises vault the sky

Hear approaching song
of tambourine and flute
castanets and harp
prophets no longer mute

Instrument of war
timbrel marks the blow
in battle of Yahweh
that conquers deadly foe

See our mighty God
in victory parades
singers, harps, a band
joined by the timbrel maids

Dulcet moons of grace
in city from above
joy dances in the hands
of faith, hope and love

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
One of Diane Lockward’s newsletters challenged:
Let’s do an ekphrastic poem. First find a painting or photograph that captures your imagination…. Let your imagination be stimulated by the artwork.

The piece of artwork I chose was “The Dance” by Donna Smallenberg.

~*~*~*~*~

VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Christmas Snapshots #haikuforhealing

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Though I haven’t joined in on Poetry Friday for a couple of weeks, I’ve enjoyed reading the #haikuforhealing (Mary Lee Hahn’s idea)  that keep popping up in my Twitter feed and various blogs this December.

Today I’m  bringing my little haiku side-dish to the potluck.

village-2

Image scanned from an old Christmas card

Christmas Snapshots #haikuforhealing

Road choked with cars.
She signals merge—let her in…
That’s the spirit!

Smell of poppycock
on my early morning walk—
only at Christmas.

🎼 Chestnuts roasting…
O come all ye faithful 🎹
I’ll be home. 🎶

Christmas Eve—all here,
lists ticked off, fridge full, feet hurt.
Soak in candlelight.

Trash bins overflow
tissue, Santa wrap, packing…
We are so blessed!

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Now, a Merry Christmas,  Happy Hanukkah (or whatever winter, or summer [if you’re down-under] holiday you celebrate) to all!

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

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