the music beneath my fingers…

I arrived home from Australia, and there was our piano, waiting for me. I’ve been longing to get the piano keys under my fingers again, but I hadn’t taken any music with me to Australia. I know, an oversight, but I really didn’t think I would miss it so much! And now, it had been so long since I played. My music memorization has never been very good, and I stink at sight-reading, on the spot. But still, when someone else begins to play the piano, outside of church, my fingers start itching to play, as well.

If I actually do sit down without music, it generally results in failure, because my memory doesn’t extend beyond my fingers. Frustration comes of this. Which doesn’t make being near a piano anything pleasurable. You just want to make music… and you can’t.

My favorite pieces of music have been the same, since I was a fifteen year old taking piano lessons. I didn’t do well at learning pieces by Chopin or Mozart, because I didn’t really like the music (or rather, I preferred to listen to them than to play them), or I just thought it was too difficult. And I didn’t like practicing. But if I was presented with a piece that I loved, I would learn it, come hell or high water.

My dad taught himself to play the piano, long before I was born, and as a child, I wanted to be able to do it, too. We also had some old tape recordings of hymns that he played, and I would listen to them over and over, planning to learn them. I learned to sing “One Small Child” and “The Tree Song”, while he played. At Christmastime, I would sing all my favorites, while standing at his shoulder.

When I grew old enough to play, and hammer out the tunes that I knew and liked, I have happy memories of playing “The Drummer Boy”, with my five year old brother bellowing along with the “Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum” parts. And I do mean bellowing, because he was born with a bass voice, making my male classmates jealous, and I’d swear that at puberty, his voice went up, instead of down.

As my piano lessons progressed, and I figured out how to sing “One Small Child”, while playing a piece of music that didn’t incorporate the melody into it (I found it tricky, for quite a while), I was still trying to locate a piece of music that was on the old audio tapes. My dad didn’t sing along with them, so I didn’t know the names of them all. I’m not sure if I asked him, and he didn’t remember, or if I was just persisting in figuring it out for myself. But there was one absolutely glorious song that I just HAD to learn to play.

It was called “The Day He Wore My Crown”, and it was in the same book as “The Tree Song”, “One Small Child”, “Beautiful Savior” (played to a different tune than you’ll know), and “Like a River Glorious”. These were all favorites of mine, and still are, but this new one had chords that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to play. Could my hands even stretch that far? But thanks to my dad’s beautiful playing on that tape, and listening to it hundreds of times, I knew exactly what it should sound like. And eventually, I conquered it, and can now sing along.

Perhaps you’ve never heard it before? It tells about Christ’s coming to Jerusalem, and His “crime” was the love He showed to us. How He gave His life, the day He wore my crown… because of what I did. The chorus says that “I’m the one to blame, I caused all the pain”, but He still chose to come and wear that crown for me.

I love a good song, no matter where it comes from, and I grew up watching the movie, The Land Before Time. During the credits, the song “If We Hold On Together” plays, and I’ve always loved it. When I found a book of movie music with that piece in it, I learned it as quickly as possible, shocking my teacher, as I was often disinclined to practice. “Somewhere Out There”, from An American Tale, is also in that book, but I’ve always found it a little more difficult to play, but that doesn’t keep me from trying. Never think that you can’t find some beautiful music, even in an animated film.

We have another book of old-school music from past decades in music and movies. Many of them, I don’t even know the song, so I’ve never had the urge to learn it, I’m afraid. But two songs of love and romance that have always been playing around me are “A Time For Us”, from Romeo & Juliet, and “Where Do I Begin?”, the theme from Love Story. I’m not even sure where I first heard the former, probably off one of my grandpa’s records, before I ever watched the movie in school. But the love theme from Love Story is the tune that played whenever I removed the lid from my grandma’s candy jar. I was entranced by the song, and possibly more interested in the music than in what the jar contained. That jar now belongs to me, and now it holds nothing but memories.

Finally, here in South Carolina, we live down the road from Patch the Pirate, otherwise known as Ron Hamilton. He holds a huge ministry with his Patch the Pirate music and stories, but he also writes other music to go into hymn books. Majesty Hymns is one of those books, and contains many of his songs. Including a favorite of mine, “Wings as Eagles”. I’ll admit that I generally sing it slower than Hamilton does, when I hear him on the radio, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. Also, because it’s a hymn with chords on both hands, which I’ve never been very good at playing (one reason that I do NOT play in church), I have to play it quite slowly, or just play the right hand by itself. But when you see the words, you really can’t speed it up. At least, I can’t. Judge for yourself.

When the race still lies before me,
And the wind is blowing strong,
When the witnesses surround me,
And my strength is almost gone;
When the valley plunges deeper,
And life shatters all my dreams,
Then I lift my voice to Jesus,
And He gives my spirit wings.

God gives wings… as eagles;
God gives wings to fly and strength to rise above.
God gives wings… as eagles,
When my feet begin to stumble,
And my dreams begin to crumble,
I mount up on eagles’ wings.

–Ron Hamilton

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