How Can I Keep from Singing?

It’s extraordinary how the simple words of children can make a significant impact on a person. Whether it’s their brutal honesty or a song they sing, the words that come from the mouths of children can sometimes leave you speechless.

This is my third year working at Union’s Summer Music Camp. The camp is such a well-crafted program that gives children exposure to several different facets of music…music grounded in the Word of God. While the students sing several songs each year, there is usually one song that I am always left singing on my own. Last year, it was a song by the name of “Come, Glorify” written by Dr. Mathews in memory of Olivia Greenlee, who had been a faithful staff member of music camp and a group leader to many of the children. This year, there are two songs that have caught my ear and held tightly to it.

The first song is the theme of camp. A common art song for collegiate vocalists is entitled “How Can I Keep from Singing?” No, this is not the Chris Tomlin praise-and-worship song. It is a Early American hymn by Robert Wadsworth Lowry and the lyrics are crafted in such a way that you would almost think they came from Scripture:

1) My life flows on in endless song;
above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

2) Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

3) What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.

4) The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his!
How can I keep from singing?

Good stuff, isn’t it?
The second song that I love to hear is a song called “Guide Us, O Lord.” It’s based on the Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester who lived in the 12th Century. Although the words have been altered to suit the age group and musical aspects, its lyrics are powerful nonetheless:
Guide us through these days, O Lord, help us to seek Your way;
Trusting as You lead us with love, teach us again to pray;
Help us know You more clearly,
Help us love You more dearly,
Help us follow You more nearly.
Day by day,
Guide us, Lord, we pray.
I find myself singing these songs over and over again. Although music camp can be quite exhausting, it can be more rewarding than I ever imagined (forgive the cliché).
There are also some funny moments. During a song in handbells, the students were asked to improvise the words and as fate would have it, my name fit. Enjoy the video by clicking the link below.

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