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WITH THANKS FOR MUSIC, MUSICIANS, AND CHRISTMAS

I have a gift from God. It is not mine alone but one he seems to have distributed quite broadly. It is the gift to hear music, to feel it, to move to it, to weep because of it, to sometimes feel the joy of it right down to the bones. Part of that gift to me has been to be around people who love it, who know how to share it, who have the talent and “chops” to make it music and not noise. I come from a family that always loved music. Part of our Christmas was having an Aunt or my mother playing Carols and Christmas songs, and the rest of us trying to remember the words. I enjoyed school programs with music. I enjoyed the radio. One of the coolest things I had as a kid was a record player and a gift from some family member of some 78 speed recordings of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. I listened to it every night that I could. I never had much facility or talent for music myself. It seemed like I just couldn’t learn to accurately read music, nor to play an instrument. Yet I know that music has been one of the great enjoyments of my life. I am blessed to have a wife whose voice was almost magical. It has called out an emotional response from me many, many times. I first heard her sing in a group in elementary school, and then heard her sing a duet from West Side Story at a High School assembly. I wanted to change my name to Tony so she could have been singing to me. During our high school years we were formed into a singing group and it was there that I began to learn and to mature in my singing voice. I was never spectacular, like my wife, but I began to enjoy being part of the joy of participating. In College I was part of the Chorale and I felt blessed so many times singing songs of such beauty and depth, often beyond my real ability to master it. Now, at Christmas, music just breaks out all over the place, and it is the kind of music that contains such great ideas, such wholesome fun, such sublime truth. It sweeps up in nostalgia, love, and most of all worship. Romance songs are fun, but Christmas finally eclipses all the nasty ideas, all the gratuitous sexual allusions of modern pop and secular music. Christmas even eclipses a lot of tepid contemporary Christian music as well. So I want to say thank you to God. Thanks for the gift to make, perform, hear, and enjoy music. Thanks so much for worthy things to sing about. Things for all the people in my life who have made music great for me. Fred Means, John Hamm, James Ward, Oliver Trimiew, Joan Nabors, Jim Crumble, Getrell Watkins, Kirk Ward, Marci Ndiritu, Juliet Akinyi Nabors, Juanna Roberts, just to name a few; thanks to all of you. Thanks to Handel, thanks to Luther Vandross, thanks to Stevie Wonder, thanks to Eric Clapton, thanks to Carlos Santana. Thanks most of all to Jesus, for being born, for being the King, for fighting darkness and death, and winning. Thanks be to God that he sings, and he gives songs away, and he made sound, and he made it sweet, and puts a new song in my mouth. Life has a sound track and poor is the life that won’t hear it.

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