This year, I pause to remember the lives lost on this day. I recall exactly where I was standing when I saw the burning towers on the television, how my two young sons were eating breakfast, and the incredible, perfect blue sky on that glorious September morning…
Every year since that hallowed day, our choir has sung “A Song of Peace”. The words are poignant and stirring; our voices always join fervently and plaintively. The poetry of the lyrics combines perfectly with the melody, and each verse reminds us of our shared humanity. When we breathe out the last note together, I am not the only one with goosebumps prickling the hairs on my arms.
I love this song. It speaks to my soul. Singing it is a profoundly deeply spiritual experience for me.
This year, I no longer sing every Tuesday at practice, and every Sunday at a church service. I watch by video instead, because I can’t stand the thought of potentially harming someone if I have the virus, and I am asymptomatic. (Once I even had a nightmare that I went to church, forgot about the warnings, and sang happily… only to late find out that I had infected someone.)
But this week, two friends and I concocted a plan. We wanted to hear this song, on this day. No, more importantly, we needed to sing this song ourselves. This afternoon, at 2:00, we had a conference call over our speaker phones. One of us played the piano, and all three of us sang. I have not had the pleasure of singing with this particular group for a full year… but today we agreed it made a silver lining for everyone.
In case you are wondering about the song itself, I’m including it here:
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is:
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are ev’rywhere as blue as mine.
So hear my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.
(Lloyd Stone verses one and two)
May truth and freedom come to every nation!
May peace abound where strife has raged so long;
That each may seek to love and build together,
A world united, righting every wrong;
A world united in its love for freedom,
Proclaiming peace together in one song.
(Third verse is not clearly attributed)
Known as “A Song of Peace”, based on the 6th movement of Finlandia, written in 1899 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.