18 January 2011

church music

In church, I opened the Psalter Hymnal (the gray one, the new edition, c. 1987) to number 475, and promptly put the book away. I didn't need it. I should have known just from the number that I wouldn't need it. I know all the words to that one, except that I can never remember in the second verse if it's "the same as ever" or "the same forever."

Sometimes I page through the hymnal in church in Gone West (there is no Home Dutch Denomination church in Universe City), and I estimate that I know about 1/3 of the 641 songs in there. Not all by heart, you understand, but enough to sing them without an instrument guiding the way. It's so much of my childhood, my past, in that book.

Singing Praise My Soul the King of Heaven on Sunday night, I wished that I knew how to play the piano. When I was little, in Liberia, my mom would play the piano on Sunday nights, and we would sing our way through the Psalter Hymnal. When it was my turn to pick, I always chose the militaristic songs, for some unknown reason, but now I'm grateful for the majestic ones, the beautiful ones. I wish I knew how to play them myself.

When I first moved to Rwanda, when J. and E. were there for a month showing me around, E. and I spent several days trying to remember all the words to By the Sea of Crystal. When I sing it now, I can see those mountains and valleys of northern Rwanda, between Gisenyi and Ruhengeri, passing in my mind.

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