Why we sing

Every once in awhile, someone reminds me that the world likes singing.

I had the pleasure of observing a long-time friend of the family the other day.  He stood in front of his Maryville class and community members and led them through a Latin reading of Luke’s Nativity account.  Never have I seen a more genuine celebration of the Giving Season.   I was invited to sing a couple of pieces in Latin to round out the affair…in the university’s library….that hallowed ground where one is not supposed to speak, more or less sing the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria.”  But sing it I did, according to the good Doctor’s wishes.  And halfway through “Adeste Fideles,” some individuals in the group took me up on my offer, and they sang too.  They even thanked me afterward for singing and for letting them sing.  I should have been the one doing the thanking.

I walked away thinking, maybe it isn’t as hard as we think to give and receive.  Sometimes it just  takes driving to Maryville University, listening to a beloved professor engage with his students, and singing.

A day later, the professor and friend told me he’d been thinking about this poem by Wordsworth.  I’m now convinced.  We sing because the world likes it.  Before, during and after.

BEHOLD her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain, 5
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands 10
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas 15
Among the farthest Hebrides.
Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago: 20
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?
Whate’er the theme, the Maiden sang 25
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;—
I listen’d, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill, 30
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

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