In a recent New York Times article, Linda Ronstadt talks about why we sing.

“For the same reasons birds do,” she says, “for a mate, to claim their territory or simply give voice to being alive in the midst of a beautiful day. They sing so coming generations won’t forget what the current generation endured, or dreamed, or delighted in.”

Those comments resonated with me for a couple of reasons. One reason came about because I’ve been teaching a class this semester that incorporated both John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and U2’s “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.” Now that may seem like an odd pairing, but both speak the same language:

Keats writes,

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;

While U2 sings,

Every generation gets a chance to change the world
Pity the nation that won’t listen to your boys and girls
‘Cos the sweetest melody is the one we haven’t heard.

There is music all around us, “giving voice to being alive,” and it’s not all that difficult to hear, and in the hearing, we cannot help but recognize the music’s Creator, realizing “that God is sovereign”:

7-12 “But ask the animals what they think—let them teach you;
let the birds tell you what’s going on.
Put your ear to the earth—learn the basics.
Listen—the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories.
Isn’t it clear that they all know and agree
that God is sovereign, that he holds all things in his hand—
Every living soul, yes,
every breathing creature?
Isn’t this all just common sense,
as common as the sense of taste?
Do you think the elderly have a corner on wisdom,
that you have to grow old before you understand life?

Job 12: 7 – 12 (The Message)

All this gives rise to the second reason, for when we accept that “God [our] Maker . . . gives songs [of rejoicing] in the night” (Job 35: 10  – AMP) , there is a comfort and peace in every day living, especially when that every day living presents us challenges, and it does. But as we read in Job – “He holds all things in His hand,” and that is the ultimate comfort and the ultimate reason to sing. Look around, take note, and see that

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. [“God’s Grandeur,” Gerard Manley Hopkins]

My late mother-in-law loved the hymn “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” a tune that offers those same reassurances, found in Matthew 10: 29 – 31:

 29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already. 30 Even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.  (CEB)

Savannah sparrow by Diana Churchill

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,

For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

So in this season of Thanksgiving and as we approach Advent, despite the pressures of the world and the tensions that often come this time of year, we can find a reason to sing for “He watches me.”

“For the joy of ear and eye, for the heart’s and mind’s delight,

For the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight;

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.”

(“For the Beauty of the Earth,” Folliott S. Pierpoint)

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