Sing In the New Year

Happy New Year, lovelies!

It has been an emotional New Year’s for us this year. Many mixed feelings, and lots of gratitude in spite of everything.

Here is another example of Dilovely’s infinite nerdiness, in the form of rounds. Some call them canons; like Row, Row, Row Your Boat, one person starts the song and then if others start singing the same song at appropriate intervals, it sounds dope. I mean, it sounds pretty. (Sean and I watched Trevor Noah’s “Son of Patricia” last night, so “dope” came to mind, but who am I kidding? I can’t pull that off.)

I have loved singing rounds since I was a girl – too young to remember learning my first ones. I was (am) lucky to have two sisters and a mom who could all sing, so sometimes we sang them together. Also, in my experience, Quakers know lots of rounds. We used to sing them at Camp NeeKauNis, and I once attended a Folk Song Weekend at Journey’s End Farm Camp (also run by Quakers) where we learned some new ones. And I have fond memories of singing rounds in front of a campfire at a family reunion once.

I always wish they would keep going forever, because when you’re actually singing them, it takes a while to get the hang of it – and then it sounds magical. I have kept these ones short, though – they are mostly for reference. My nerdy ambition is to make an online collection of rounds I know so that they don’t die (not that they necessarily would without my patronage… but round-singing isn’t as common as it used to be, I think).

So here are the two I prepared earlier. They constitute the collection so far. The first is a wish for the new year, and the second is simply one of the shortest and prettiest rounds EVER. (Apologies that on the first one, the key I’m singing in tends upward by at least a half-step by the end.) They are only briefly in four parts – mostly it’s three parts, to hear the roles shifting. Voilà, et bonne année!

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The cold never bothered me anyway.

It’s that time of year when winter seems long – even though in my area of Ontario, it hasn’t been that tough a winter… I’m still thinking of green leaves with wistfulness.

Here’s my three-year-old in her FAVOURITE OUTFIT, showing off her dazzling lack of tuning, made up for by her soul-deep commitment to the role. May it warm your heart in the midst of the snow… or at least make you giggle a bit.

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Sometimes it’s hard to find words.

Dear Sebastian,

I hope you enjoyed the music yesterday. I loved listening, and feeling so close to you.

The three women whose voices delivered our lullaby were singing with you in their hearts, thanks to the initiative of my dear friend C, who loves the song and felt that it should be shared in person.

I haven’t been to a traditional Sunday morning church service very many times in my life – it felt a little funny to gather with a congregation that is not Quaker, and not in silence.

But it was really nice to be there, sincerely welcomed by strangers with smiles, hearing about the people that the community is presently holding in the Light (they didn’t use those words exactly, but I knew what they meant), following along with the hymns, watching the music director’s exuberant piano-playing, listening to the reverend speak about love and what an important part it is of each of us.

And when our song was sung, the notes soared sublimely up to the vaulted ceiling, and it was lovely to be gazing at the candle flames, the flowers, the jewel-coloured windows, and the most beautiful organ pipes I’d ever seen. Of course, I was crying too.

It is hard to describe what was going on in my head and heart.

It was exciting to be announced as “the composer” of the piece – I almost felt like the genuine article… And it was incredible to be given the gift of finally hearing the song I made for your first birthday, live and real, for the first time ever, sung by people who care about your story.

Most of all, it meant the world to feel close to you.

The truth is, I missed you so much over the holidays this year. I thought of you often, and wore your necklace every day, but mostly – I’m so sorry – I tried not to think about you. Usually I welcome the connection I feel when I think of you, even though it’s sad for me. But this time, for some reason, the grief felt harder, chilling. When we put your special ornaments on the tree, I had a taste of the dark kind of sadness that reminds me of cold baby graves with teddy bears beside them, and devastating family tragedies that blacken December. I did my best to steer clear of those thoughts.

But in a big room filled with beauty and sunlight, listening to our music, I was okay. We were okay.

And somehow, the singers wanted to thank me for the song. I couldn’t remotely find the proper words to thank them.

Even though part of me would have liked for everyone who loves you to have heard the music yesterday, it was easier that only a few people present knew your story. C’s mom gave me a big, bolstering hug (which I really needed) when the song ended, but the general audience had no reason to wonder how I was taking the experience, thank goodness. Many of them told me afterward that they enjoyed the song, and that was all I wanted.

After the service (and lots of hugs, and a few more tears on my part), the three singers took the song to the hospital with them, to say goodbye to a dear friend who won’t be with them much longer. They had asked permission, which I gladly gave; that was when I fully realized that this lullaby has always been meant to be a comfort to both the listener and the singer. It’s just that, until now, the only singer had been me.

What a blessing, this experience.

I still can’t come up with all the words I need right now. I’ll just remind you that I love you and I miss you. As always, I am glad that you are part of my heart. I wish I could kiss your little cheeks.

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To listen to the original lullaby, please click here.


 

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100 Happy Days – Day 22: Singing Children

When your kids sing, it makes all the hard stuff worthwhile.

AB wandering around the house, singing a bittersweet, evocative song to the “friends” she’s carrying with her.

And E heartily singing at the breakfast table: “Oh, tidings are covered in joy, covered in joy!”

I just melt.

He sang this refrain yesterday in he car, too, and asked me, “Mummy, are you covered in joy?” I told him there were definitely times when I am. Like that moment.

(I’m afraid I don’t have photos of this, since you have to just love the moment and a pic wouldn’t do it justice anyway… so I’m cheating on the photo-every-day thing. I’ll see what I can do about a singing montage sometime soon, to make up for it.)

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