Abra learns to play piano as a child. She loves music, and is gifted with talent and nice long fingers. Her teacher, Mitzi, recognizes a kindred spirit and relishes training her. Mitzi finds a way to use music as a healing device and a means of planting seeds that will begin to grow when Abra goes through her time in the wilderness.
I love music. I took piano lessons as a child. I had Abra’s hands, but not her gifts and certainly not her discipline. That’s what’s nice about writing. I can live vicariously through my characters and let her blessings play out and develop in surprising ways.
One of the things Mitzi does is make Abra learn every song in the church hymnal. Abra is less than excited about this prospect. She’d rather be practicing one of the popular songs on the radio. Nevertheless, Mitzi pushes her and keeps pushing her.
Far too many churches have left those old hymnals behind. Writing a story also gives me a chance to have characters sing and play what I love to hear. Not that I don’t appreciate and love some of the new music. Rick and I just went on a KLOVE radio cruise. We attended more concerts in five days than we had in the last five years, and loved every minute of it. Tenth Avenue North (“Worn” makes me cry every time I hear it), Mercy Me, Audio Adrenaline… I’m a groupie, though I didn’t gush and ask for autographs when I saw members of the band at the buffet or near the pool.
Oh, but those old hymns are so rich, the words so deep. They aren’t like so many, heard today and forgotten tomorrow. Here are some of my favorites with the year they were written:
How Great Thou Art (1886)
Nearer My God to Thee (1856)
Just As I Am (1835)
Holy, Holy, Holy (1826)
Were You There? (no date, traditional Negro spiritual)
Amazing Grace (1772)
Rock of Ages (1763)
Someone with Abra’s talent could update the music, modernize the lyrics and bring them back into the sanctuaries to young people who have never heard them – or always thought mistakenly that they are boring dirges meant to be sung at funerals.
Oh, for a few brave and adventurous souls willing to orchestrate these great songs with a saxophone, full set of drums and some electric guitars — and singers who felt the vibes that made these hymns so dear to generations before them.