How Can I Keep from Singing?

(written in homage to the hymn which has various attributions)

My life flows on in endless song,
but now I shift the measure —
sung by myself, performance gone,
each word and note I treasure.
We sing our grace at table now
and hymn alone when praying.
Flat note, missed line, I do not mind
my memory’s betraying.

Tree leaf percussion plays above
this cricket frog symphonic,
and birds still sing their springtime love
against night trains harmonic.
I hear soprano in the rain,
the timpany’s rough weather,
and bright’s the anthem in the dawn
by morning stars together.

I learn to love the instruments
that hold our music safely —
the harp, piano, clarinet,
and friendly ukelele.
The castanets and tambourine
make joyful noise and rhythm
and in my hands — doxology
Signs ASL precision.

I thought the virus killed our song,
prepared a lamentation
but both the YouTube and the whale
blend chords to our salvation.
There is a concert of the heart
that rises up before us
and when we listen from our love,
the angels join the chorus.

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15 Responses to How Can I Keep from Singing?

  1. Christine MacDowall says:

    I am loving it, laughing out loud and singing along. Yes, I hear the song too. Yesterday, while sitting out in the sunshine, I heard a cricket tuning up for a dusky chorus.
    We had a silent street show too – a black shouldered kite brought its prey, a small bird, to be eaten on top of our next door neighbour’s television aerial. That’s unusual enough for my husband and I to watch for over an hour. We were joined by a butcher bird wanting to help with the feast or clean up the scraps which fell into the garden, some mynah birds swooping around trying to unsettle the kite, and suddenly a whole family of black and white magpies descended. Dad sat on the aerial with his back to the kite, the children perched on the roof ridge. The kite just kept on with his evening meal and then as darkness descended, disappeared into the night.
    I wonder what we will see or hear next!

  2. Maren says:

    What an incredible description which takes me to your street to your home. Thank you.

  3. Mary Elford says:

    A beautiful re-writing, Maren! thank you!

  4. Jessica McArdle says:

    We have oft sung this song at the Retirement Community where I serve, before the pandemic. It was always a favorite! So inspired by your lyrics, Maren, I’ll sing our grace as well.

  5. Deane older than dirt says:

    ❤️
    Today is my birthday (so far so good!) This is a wonderful birthday present! Thank you 🍦🌈🎶

    • Maren says:

      Wow!! Happy birthday — quarantine tip, Deane, (my birthday also has been in this time) Take off your mask before you eat cake.

  6. mbmankin says:

    I love this, Maren!! And I can’t read it without singing it in my head! Mary Beth

  7. ahuntca says:

    thanks! I love the hymn and I love your version for our time. I am so grateful for you-tube and it’s music videos. I am getting through these days with the spiritual care & sustenance that comes from singing along with the you tube videos and am expecially grateful for those who line out the lyrics because I do forget the lines… my memory does betray me and I mourn it’s loss. But I do believe our voices are rising and healing our world even if we are singing alone off key and flat… as prayer or rowdy expressions of happier times. Blessings!

  8. Maren says:

    Amen — you certainly enter into the spirit of what I was trying to nudge at!!! I love to think of you singing away like me to the YOurTubes.

  9. beegood1 says:

    Yup I love to sing 🎶

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  10. elainebolitho says:

    Thank you Maren – yes, we will keep on singing! I always hear a haunting mysticism in the words of this song (possible link to my Celtic ancestry) , and your prayer/poem captures it so well.

    Blessings,

    Elaine

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