December 14, 2011

Heavenly Peace

For those wondering what I do with all the time I'm not blogging (which, as you know, is quite a lot of time, indeed), the last few weeks have involved two primary things: a few more-important-than-usual gigs to prepare for, and a really annoying cold that has gotten in the way of much of the necessary prep time.  I'm finally feeling myself again, which is good since this coming weekend will involve 2+ hours of wedding and dance music for the marriage of some good friends from Holy Trinity Church.  Between crooning some jazzy slow songs and belting out classics like the Hokey Pokey, my weekend is certainly going to be one for the books.  (Which books are yet to be determined, but I'm guessing either a sappy romance or a love-gone-wrong horror novel.)  It's sure to be a fun time, either way.  

In addition to that, given it's Christmastime and all that, there are of course Christmas concerts.  Last Friday our church hosted our annual holiday event, Christmas on the Town.  Though I was still somewhat in the throes of a sinus infection, I still somehow managed to do this:

The song, composed by our friend and church music colleague Ben Lynerd (who is also at the piano in this video), is called "Heavenly Peace: A Blues Ballad," and it's based off of poet William Cullen Bryant's piece, "A Rain-Dream."  Here are the words straight from the poem:

These strifes, these tumults of the noisy world, 
Where Fraud, the coward, tracks his prey by stealth, 
And Strength, the ruffian, glories in his guilt, 
Oppress the heart with sadness. Oh, my friend, 
In what serener mood we look upon 
The gloomiest aspects of the elements 
Among the woods and fields! Let us awhile, 
As the slow wind is rolling up the storm, 
In fancy leave this maze of dusty streets, 
Forever shaken by the importunate jar 
Of commerce, and upon the darkening air 
Look from the shelter of our rural home.

You might notice that some of the words were changed a bit to fit the song, and particularly Ben's arrangement of it with "Silent Night."  For instance, in the song the excerpt ends with, "Upon the darkening air, let us gaze from the mountain on a silent night."  While these words always have something to say to a busy city-dweller like myself, forever ready to hear, "Let us in fancy leave this maze of dusty streets" (a truer image of the city ne'er was uttered), the poem was particularly meaningful last week.  My cold kept me up most nights with wearying congestion and perpetual coughing, and oh -- how often I thought to myself, "oh, to have a moment's peace... oh, to sleep again!!," I could not possibly recount.

Sick or not, this concept of peace is tonic for the weary soul.  This city, not to mention the world in general, is full of strife, fraud, abuse and oppression, and its inhabitants are not only shaken but imprisoned by "that importunate jar of commerce."  And while here in Chicago I often believe a rural home to be the far-off image of peace, even that is not the source or epitome of it.  No, true peace is only found in this: a wee baby, a paradoxically tiny God in flesh, come to bring peace with God to all mankind the only way it was possible, by becoming like us.  With us.  

God with us.  

Finally, not just a moment's peace, but an eternity's.  

And not simply "peace on earth" but heavenly peace on earth.

Thank you, Father, and oh, how we long for peace on earth as it is in heaven, through your Son...


Special shout-outs to my dearest friends: Jenna who captured this video, and Graham Nelson, who plays that mouth harp like nobody's business!  Also much thanks to Roy Patterson from Moody Radio, who graciously stepped in to lead the congregation in "Silent Night."


EDIT:  I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but one of Eric's beautiful compositions was also a highlight of the evening!!  Click here to hear it on his own blog!


  1. I loved listening to it again--wowza. You're amazing! Graham is amazing! Ben is amazing!

  2. Excellent, Carrie!

  3. carrie...this is beyond outstanding. seriously...i wish i could have been there. while listening i suddenly realized that you're reminiscent of a longtime favorite: eva cassidy.

    i hope you are feeling better soon. <3

  4. Awww, shucks. Thank you, everybody! You all are so very kind. :)

    rain, Eva Cassidy was one of the first singers Eric introduced me to when we started dating. :) Do you know her version of "Wade in the Water"? One of my absolute favorites!

  5. LOVE this! That harmonica solo - stellar as all get out... made my day...

  6. Carrie, I was looking forward to listening to this (and Eric's arrangement -- please tell him, thanks!) but apparently I've reached my satellite "limit" today (one of the joys of "peaceful" rural living... :) -- and I'll catch up with you after I view it in the wee hours of the morning.

    Sometimes the stillness of night is better for reflecting on True Peace -- loved what you wrote -- looking forward to your music. (Both of you!) Merry Christmas!

  7. I never imagined Silent Night ala "blues" but this was awesome, Carrie! Many, many thanks!

  8. Thanks so much, Chris and Kimby!!! I'm glad you both enjoyed it. :)