Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Xylophones, drums and horns – Make a Joyful Noise of Thanks and Wow

Xylophone Player by Daniel 'Nshira' Akortia
  “Hail to our mother, who caused the yellow flowers to blossom, who scattered the seeds of the maguey, as she came forth from Paradise.”  Hymn to the Mother of the Gods, Teleoinan, at

“THE radiant Dawns have risen up for glory, in their white splendor like the waves of waters.
She maketh paths all easy, fair to travel, and, rich, hath shown herself benign and friendly.”  Hymn to the Goddess of the Dawn.  Rig Veda, tr. by Ralph T.H. Griffith, [1896], at

Growing up in a musical household, any Psalm about musical instruments playing or singing was adorned and identified as most sacred.  These were the Psalms about thanksgiving and praise.  There was a lot of scheming and plotting done in the back pews about adding musical accompaniments to the reading.  Mainly it revolved around seeing the “church ladies” wearing their Sunday Uniform get all in a tizzy.  Clashing drums and tooting trumpets weren't part of my church’s worship service – only organs playing dirgey hymns that would make you yawn.  My family felt the place could use a shake up or at least a gong?     

My first exposure to Yule celebration was from my next door neighbors.  I was a solo practitioner at the time.  My neighbors told me that they were having a party and it would be loud and they left it at that.  I assured them it would be okay.  The walls were thin that night and I could hear the songs and drumming and the recorder and guitar.  It wasn't just a little party and the songs weren't the dirgey songs of worship I grew up on.  They were joyful and full of thanksgiving.  I lit my Yule candles to their merriment and song and felt blessed that evening.


Psalm 150
1 Praise the Lord.[a]
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.


I was on my way home from work last week and caught the tail end of the NPR interview of Anne Lamont.  She was talking about her new book about prayer (Help, Thanks and Wow).  It got me to thinking about which prayer I lean to?  Which prayer does my Circle focus on?  If it was a bar graph the Help would be at 85%-98%.  And why is that?  

I tramped around the snow at my family farm Thanksgiving weekend and did some soul searching.  I watched the pheasants with their white collars look for field corn.  I said wow.  I went to the oak tree that had been topped over from the July windstorm.  This is a tree that I can’t wrap my arms around and the roots now exposed.  Again, I said wow.  My Uncle hugged me goodbye and I was very thankful of his company.   

Sunday night back home, I finally sat down to draft my portion of Yule.  I reflected on changing things up.  I decided to focus my theme on thanksgiving rather that wishing.  I thought about the play list I recommended to my circle and resubmitted my request - Copland's Simple Gifts and Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G.    For fun, Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor - Xylophone.

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