Friday, February 20, 2009

Melody Making

Paul gives some wonderful advice to the Ephesians. He says, “Be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:18-19). Being a woman who talks to herself—usually right out loud—I like that Paul is encouraging such activity instead of condemning it as bordering on senile. I also like that he encourages us to think in poetry and music. I’ve always thought that both are the highest forms of language. Both can help us draw close to the Spirit.

I especially love the phrase, “Making melody in your heart to the Lord.” The word melody means, “A sweet or agreeable succession or arrangement of sounds.” And it is very interesting what power “a sweet succession of sounds” can have on you. Try it sometime today. When you feel yourself getting upset, or anxious, or stressing, or worrying, or any other negative feeling just begin to hum a sweet succession of sounds to the Lord. Make it up as you go. You don’t need words—you can hum or sing la, la, la’s. All you need to do is make sure it is sweet; then watch what happens.

I’m interested in how it works for you. Leave a comment and share your experience with singing and making melody in your heart. I'd like to use some of these experiences in a book I'm writing--with your permission, of course!

I hope you have a melodious day!


Wendi said...

I'll share a couple of experiences with my children.

1.) I've sung "You're Not Alone/I Am A Child of God" from "Our Heavenly Father's Plan", I think (by Michael McLean), to my daughter as a lullaby ever since she was a baby. She still loves it and she's 12 1/2 now! She has had seizures after falling asleep off and on ever since she was three and this always seems to calm her down afterwards.

2.) My son, who is almost 10, still likes it when I sing his lullaby at night too--it's less spiritual, but still very calming. He sometimes gets his feelings hurt at school and these memories sometimes cause him to cry at night. This happened again two nights ago. So, I crawled up on his bunk bed with him and talked to him for awhile. Then I sang the regular version of "I Am a Child of God" to him and, by the time I was done singing, he was feeling a lot better. I then heard him singing to himself some more after I came back to bed. It warmed my heart to know that he was learning to comfort himself through music as well. :)

I, personally, love Hilary Weeks and her CD's can lift my mood faster than any other music. I also appreciated the song you wrote for the Women's Conference ("Come Forth as Gold") and thorougly enjoyed listening to One Clear Voice perform afterwards. I've now downloaded the songs that they sang. In fact, my daughter started spontaneously singing along when she heard their music playing last week. And there is nothing more inspiring than the sacrament hymns. I, too, am so thankful for the influence of music in my life. :) (I don't know if you'll want to use any of this for your book, but feel free to use any or all of it.) :)

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Wendi, Thank you! Have you ever made up the music yourself?

Wendi said...

I'm not as good at that. I guess that was your point, wasn't it?! I do find myself whistling a happy tune when I'm in the zone while cleaning. Does that count? :) I get that from my dad--he's a cheerful whistler as well. :)

Karen said...

I have a testimony of how sweet music sung to the Lord can soothe an anxious soul. I had to have surgery to bring Graham into this world, and those who know me well, know that I am claustrophobic. Being in a small space, or worse yet, having my movement confined sends me into panic mode. During my c-section, I asked the Lord to help me and I felt impressed to sing. So during the entire process I sang primary song after primary song in my head. I could hear my sweet husband and the doctors all around me, but I kept on singing and the Lord blessed me with a calmness. Yay for music!!

Karen said...

Wendi, my son also has seizures; Rolandic Seizures since he turned 7 years old. He is now almost 12. I found your blog entry especially touching, it is so scary for Graham when he wakes up that way. Thanks for sharing :)

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Wendi, It didn't have to be made up. I was just wondering. Thanks for your input. Music is magic! I think it is great that your son is learning to use music for comfort! You've taught him well!!

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Karen, Thanks for sharing your experience. It is so nice when we find ways that work to calm us!

Wendi said...

Sherrie, I'm not able to get "in the zone" while cleaning very often--focusing is one of my struggles. So, the more I thought about that, the more I realized that I'll bet the music I was making (even if it was through whistling) brought the Spirit in and then the influence of the Spirit helped me to concentrate! :) I'm going to remember that next time I'm having trouble focusing. :)

And, Karen, I'm sorry that your son has to deal with seizures too. Heather has epilepsy and even though she takes medicine, they still break through on occasion. I'm thankful for Priesthood blessings and music that help her relax when she worries about falling asleep because she's scared one will happen. And I'm also thankful for those same things that help her calm down after having one. :)

Dave's Mom said...

Sherrie -
I could go on for pages about my experiences with music and the spirit, probably more than you want in the comment section of your blog. (And when I get carried away, I really can go on for pages.) What type / length of experiences were you looking for? Perhaps it would be better for me to email them to you.

I could share two experiences briefly.

My daughter Amy could sing almost before she could talk. She used to make up songs and sing them to us. Usually they had no melody that was recognizable, and instead turned into a stream of consciousness set to an unpredictable tune. She would often demand that we sing with her, but it was impossible to do so, since we didn't know what she was singing. But she used music to help her sort through her feelings and calm herself down.

When she was 4 years old I went into labor with my 3rd child, and she and her brother accompanied us to the hospital with me panting and grimacing the whole way. I remember her singing on the way to the hospital a little tune about Mommy going to have a baby and hope that everything was going to be okay. I'm not sure if she was trying to calm me down or herself down.

When she was a Sunbeam in Primary, her first talk was a real challenge for her. We discussed and rehearsed what she would say for several days, and every time she practiced it, she would sing the words to her talk to a little made up tune. If I told her she just needed to talk and couldn't sing, she was suddenly speechless. As I remember, when she actually delivered the talk, I compromised. I introduced what she was going to say, and then she sang a song from the children's songbook as her testimony.

My mother used music often to calm her 10 children down on long road trips and to keep us from fighting with each other. Whenever things started to get a little boring and we started fidgeting, she would start to sing, and we would all join in. As a result, nobody could fight while they were singing (except about which song to sing) and we all learned the hymns and children's songs and many others.

The tradition of singing as a family has continued throughout the years. As a family we gathered around her bed during the last few weeks of her life and sang to her in 4 part harmony. We even sang together around her body shortly after she passed away, and felt her spirit singing with us. Surprisingly, the singing helped to carry us through that time. One of my brothers suggested we sing "Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and we were singing it with gusto when the mortuary returned the call to come for her. I'm sure they must have thought they had the wrong number!

One of my favorite memories of my mother is coming home from school to hear her working around the house and singing "O Divine Redeemer" or "Climb Every Mountain" at the top of her lungs as she did her housework. I would sometimes join with her and see if we could make the glass in the house rattle when we hit the high notes. I could go on and on about this, but my family is buzzing around me wanting my attention, so off to more pressing matters!

Laura Gordon

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Laura, Thank you so much. Those stores are wonderful and I can just see Amy in front of the Primary singing!