Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just a Bit of Music Trivia

Song lyrics have fascinated me since I was around 14-15 years old. I used to spend hours listening to James Taylor and Carole King, reading along with the lyrics, writing them down word for word. Notebooks were filled with words and songs. My time in class, better spent studying, was spent writing my own poetry and copying the poetry and songs of others.

Not long ago I was reflecting on when I began to love words and writing and I realized it was at the same age that I became a Christian, age 14. I know I've always felt a spiritual connection in my writing, as if my heart was filled and my words easily became prayers.

In researching the lyrics of the song "How Can I Keep From Singing", I discovered that it was originally written in 1860 by Robert Lowry, a Baptist minister in Pennsylvania. He also wrote "Shall We Gather at the River" and many more hymns.

The folk singer, Pete Seeger, learned the song in 1957, changed the words, and his version is the one sung by Judy Collins.

The Original by Robert Lowry

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strifeI hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin; I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—How can I keep from singing?

Paraphrased Version

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth's lamentation.
I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What through the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

This song lifts my heart everytime I hear it.

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