Song of the Week: Oklahoma

In a few hours, I will begin a long overdue trip to my much beloved home on the rolling plains. To mark the occasion, the Pax Plena song of the week is none other than Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic show tune Oklahoma!

Oddly, one of my favorite performances of the musical took place at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts- a veritable mecca of culture nestled just outside of Washington, D.C. The cast was full of bright, young actors who struggled as best they could to capture an Oklahoma accent. It was a bit too muggy to watch a musical in the summer, as I recall, but the closing chorus makes every performance worth while.

Of course, no performance of Oklahoma! is more memorable than the one preformed by the Walters High School Varsity Choir during my sophomore year. A fun fact for the Pax Plena faithful- yours truly sang baritone throughout my high school days, and played the small role of Judge Andrew Carnes in said production.

Perhaps law school was always in the cards after all.

Given my exodus from the desert, blogging will be light over the course of the next few days. I will do my best to post as time allows. In the interim, please enjoy the Pax Plena song of the week, and the coolest State Song in land, Oklahoma!

Oklahoma!
By Rodgers & Hammerstein

Eller:
They couldn’t pick a better time as that in life

Andrew:
It ain’t too early and it ain’t too late

Laurey:
Startin’ as a farmer with a brand new wife

Curley:
Soon’ll be livin’ in a brand new state

Company:
Brand new state!
Brand new state, gonna treat you great!
Gonna give you barley, carrots and pertaters,
Pasture fer the cattle,
Spinach and termayters!
Flowers on the prarie where the June bugs zoom,
Plen’y of air and plen’y of room,
Plen’y of room to swing a rope!
Plen’y of heart and plen’y of hope.

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain
And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev’ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin’ lazy circles in the sky.

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We’re only sayin’
You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain
And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev’ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin’ lazy circles in the sky.

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We’re only sayin’
You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.

Okla-okla-Okla-Okla-Okla-Okla
Okla-okla-Okla-Okla-Okla-Okla…

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We’re only sayin’
You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.
L – A – H – O – M – A
OKLAHOMA!
Yeeow!

Song of the Week: A Better Rain

The monsoons have finally arrived here in Tucson. After a long, sun-parched summer, and with a trip to Oklahoma looming, I can think of no better song of the week, for this Tuesday in particular, than George Strait’s A Better Rain.

Taken from the 2006 album It Just Comes Natural, the melody of the song mixes pensive and optimistic sounds to create a wistful tribute to life and change. What makes the sound unique, in a style specific to George Strait, is its simple use of the fiddle and acoustic guitar. Few instruments are more evocative of such melancholic emotions.

But what really makes the song special is its lyrics. All country lyrics tell a story. Yet, the story in this song happens to be especially true to life. Sung in the first person, it tells the story of a love gone wrong, and likens the end of the relationship to the dark, foreboding rains of a storm. The troubadour muses about life’s complexities, and then concludes by wishing the woebegone lover ‘a better rain’ to wash away the grime of pain.

In response, the mood and music of the tune lifts as the singer encourages the lover to recall the good times- ‘before the flood, once upon a time in love, a beautiful us.’ The recollection becomes a prelude to the rainbow still to come.

As 2L year peaks over the horizon, the song reminds me how we are each indelibly shaped by our pasts. The music seems to embrace this point. In the song, as in love and life, we have little choice but to forge ahead. Change is inevitable. And so the lot falls on each of us to embrace the rain- to expect that the clouds will pass, and to anticipate the streams in the desert.

Few people go through life having never loved and lost. For those among the masses of people who have done both, the message of A Better Rain will strike a chord.

The photo at right of the Tucson monsoons appears courtesy of yours truly. Feel free to use as you would. A terrific user video of A Better Rain appears below. Lyrics follow after the jump. Enjoy!

A Better Rain
By George Strait

Baby, what do you say when love comes down on you
Rainin’ the blues on you
Like it’s never gonna end on you
And all your dreams like leaves in the gutter go floatin’ by
No, baby, I don’t know why all God’s children cry
I’ll miss your skin, as golden as your wheat-field hair
And where you go, I hope you find out there

A better rain
The kind that comes in off the coast and paints the sky
And lets you know that God’s alive
A better rain
That’ll wash me from your eyes so you can smile again
And be all right again
In a better rain

Someday is gonna find you in a sweeter place
Long after time has erased
All the words like razor blades
You’ll remember you and me before the flood
Once upon a time in love, a beautiful us
I can see you on some stretch of sand
Spinin’ round in circles barefoot dancin’ in

A better rain
That’ll leave behind a rainbow in the sky
Let you know that God’s alive
A better rain
That’ll wash me from your eyes so you can smile again
And be all right again
In a better rain

A better rain
That’ll leave a rainbow in the sky
Lets you know that God’s alive
In a better rain
A better rain

Song of the Week: Troubadour

In an age where people and artists continually reinvent themselves, I have come to appreciate consistency. Going on nearly four decades in country music, George Strait is a bastion of tradition in a sea of ever changing artists. Last weekend I stumbled across George Strait’s new Troubadour album and was pleased to see that the King of Country still has it.

With one song from the new album already atop the country billboards, Strait’s stipped-down version of country music has made him the stuff of legend. The most obvious example of this nearly minimalist style is found in the first single on the album eponymously titled Troubadour. The song is at points both wistful and self-affirming. It’s unique simplicity earns it the title, Pax Plena Song of the Week.

Country music fans will appreciate that the songs on the entire album are pure George Strait. Far from having the rock flourishes of a Keith Urban, George Strait’s brand of country music reminds one of driving dusty roads in West Texas. With Strait, the generic trappings of Nashville are displaced for want of Frio County, Texas. The music is real.

In terms of sound, the drive of the album is obviously Strait’s voice, but its instrumentation is guided by the pure strum of an acoustic guitar, and the crying fiddle that personifies country music. A small trap set keeps beat, but its role in the song is far subordinate to the elements mentioned above.

But what makes Troubadour stand out from an impressive gallery of songs on the album is its lyrics. The words of the song force one to consider self-definition. Because Strait’s music style, already has quite the established definition, the challenge in the lyrics comes with authority.

For instance, in the chorus, the singer muses that even as old age approaches some goals remain the same (viz., still trying to make a name), though they have now been tempered by a profound self-assurance (viz., Knowing nothing’s gonna change what I am). This simple introspection strikes at the heart of the very negotiation made between ambition and definition. For those who resolve the conflict, there is no need to fret comparisons with others because we are who we are at the end of the day. Take it or leave it. I would submit that most folks can relate to the questions posed. The problems the song presents are just as relevant in Pearsall, TX as they are in New York City.

George Strait reminds us that in some ways we are all troubadours. Our songs are simply different.

Please enjoy the Pax Plena Song of the Week, Troubadour in the video below. Lyrics follow after the jump.

Troubadour
By George Strait

I still feel 25,
most of the time.
I still raise a little cain with the boys.
Honky tonk and pretty woman.
Lord I’m still right there with them.
Singing above the crowd and the noise.

(Chorus)
Sometimes I feel like Jesse James,
Still trying to make a name.
Knowing nothings gonna change what I am.
I was a young troubadour,
when I rode in on a song.
and I’ll be an old troubadour,
when I’m gone.

Well, The truth about a mirror,
It’s that a damn old mirrow.
Don’t really tell the whole truth,
It don’t show what’s deep inside.
Oh read between the lines,
it’s really no reflection of my youth.

(Repeat Chorus)

I was a young troubadour,
when I rode in on a song.
and I’ll be an old troubadour,
when I’m gone.
I’ll be an old troubadour,
when I’m gone.

Song of the Week: Linden Lea

A little known fact about your humble blogger: many years ago, I was a member of my high school’s varsity choir. For a town of roughly 2,500 people, our choir was fairly impressive. Led by our intrepid director, Mrs. Charla Dedmon, our small troupe would go on to win several superior medals at the Oklahoma State Solo and Ensemble Competition (This was the rough equivalent of taking a gold medal at a state championship track meet). As with so many activities of youth, I failed then to realize that my hours spent singing were actually quite influential in developing my later appreciation of art and music.

Lest this post seem more self-congratulatory than need be, I cannot lay personal claim to having made Oklahoma’s illustrious All-State Choir despite my superior solos and ensembles at State Contest. Sadly, My baritone voice was of limited range, and this did me no favors as I competed against Oklahoma’s best. I was easily bounced from the final round of auditions having returned late from a College visit to Dartmouth. I suppose we all have our priorities.

Looking back on it, I wonder if I might have met country music star Carrie Underwood somewhere during our formative years at competition. Ms. Underwood hails from sleepy Checotah, OK, a town roughly the same size as Walters, and she graduated from High School the same year I did in 2001. For anyone interested in music or singing, varsity choir was an obvious way to go. Then again, Ms. Underwood was probably too cool for choir, and, regardless, is surely way too cool for yours truly.

All of the above, is merely a long prelude to today’s Song of the Week. One of the few numbers we performed in my choir days that has stuck with me was English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams’ 1901 selection titled Linden Lea. It was a drop high for me as a baritone, but the song was lovely.

At risk of insult, Vaughn Williams’ style was to borrow from the Anglican hymnal and recast folk songs to the rough typeset of a hymn. This metric is pronounced throughout song. As a result, one could fairly call Linden Lea a secular hymn. In my view, this is a perfectly reasonable application of new styles to older songs. Artists have been doing this since ye olden days of minstrels and bards. In music and fashion alone is theft a form of flattery.

Linden Lea is striking for two reasons. First, its music is absolutely superb. Written in the key of G major, the tune is at times both soaring and brooding, not unlike the natural environs it sets to score. Specifically, the high key challenges even the best of singers because the highest points in the song are also those notes that are held the longest. A quick read of the sheet music shows the highest notes in the second half of the melody marked with a dotted quarter note set amid a 3/4 time signature.

Given the pace, it could be said that the greatest musical difficulty of the song is its simplicity. To wit, anyone can sing Amazing Grace, but not everyone can sing Amazing Grace well. The same holds true for Linden Lea.

The second reason the song is striking is its words. While Ralph Vaugh Williams dubbed the song a ‘Dorset Song,’ true credit for the lyrics go to the Dorset poet William Barnes. Barnes was born in the early 19th Century and spent the majority of his life among the west country peoples in Dorset along the southern coast of England. This area is home to a number of jutting crags, meadows and grasslands aplenty (viz., leas). Although the area was once quite thick with timber, the land has been cleared for centuries of its native forests. Its climate falls on average between 50 and 54 degrees. As one keeps in mind the area described in the song, it is difficult not to develop an affinity for such a seemingly far away place. Growing up in small-town Oklahoma, even a young boy could appreciate the romance of green leas, and the bubbling streams of Doreset.

The song was originally written in the Dorset dialect, a slight variation of English that adds a soft inflection in place of the letter “F.” It makes for an interesting read of the poem as Barnes wrote it. The themes of the poem’s language carry over nicely into the song by Ralph Vaughn Williams. It is not difficult to embrace the locale described in its colloquial warmth. The song evokes feelings brought on by the turning seasons, and by wide expanses of meadows. This aspect of appreciation is not limited to Dorset. One of my favorite college memories is of lying down in a field of green near Quechee, VT, and soaking in the cloudless sky overhead.

As a burgeoning lawyer, the part of the song that I enjoy most is the lyricists musings on life and work. The final stanza of the song describes a choice made long ago between making easy money working in ‘dark-roomed’ towns or living life in the freedom of simplicity. I suppose we will all cross a similar point of decision in our lives. But for now, the introspection is a welcomed consideration nearly a decade after first hearing the song.

Below is a performance of Linden Lea as sung by the Choir of St. Mary’s Church at Hendon. The congregation at Hendon has has existed in some form since the 9th century. Its choir has performed at such sundry places as St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and in venues across New York City. A legal and free mp3 of the song can be found here. Lyrics follow after the videos. Enjoy!

Below is a video of Linden Lea as sung by a terrific, amateur countertenor.

Below are videos underscoring the, ah, difficulty of singing Linden Lea well.

Linden Lea
Music by Ralph Vaughn Williams
Poem by William Barnes

Within the woodlands, flow’ry gladed,
By the oak trees’ mossy moot;
The shining grass blades, timber shaded,
Now do quiver under foot;
And birds do whistle overhead,
And water’s bubbling in its bed;
And there for me,
The apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

When leaves, that lately were a-springing,
Now do fade within the copse,
And painted birds do hush their singing
Up upon the timber tops;
And brown leaved fruit’s a-turning red,
In cloudless sunshine overhead,
With fruit for me,
The apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

Let other folk make money faster;
In the air of darkened towns;
I don’t dread a peevish master.
Though no man may heed my frowns
I be free to go abroad,
Or take again my home-ward road,
To where, for me,
The apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

Lyrics courtesy of FolkInfo.org.

Song of the Week: The Imperial March

In hopes of numbing the pain of finals, I recently watched all six episodes of the Star Wars saga for the first time (ever). I had my doubts. How could something parodied by every comedian since Gary Coleman be worth its social billing?

Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised. The stalwart cultural franchise was well worth the time invested. But what struck me most in the wake was the saga’s score by John Williams- particularly The Imperial March. So much so, that The Imperial March easily earns the title, Pax Plena Song of the Week.

For those in need of motivation to study, open up iTunes. Download the song. Put the track on repeat. Listen to it while en route to your exam. The effect is almost like navigating an Imperial Star Destroyer in traffic. The tune should be enough to set you on attack mode as you prepare to annihilate the test (or your prof).

What makes The Imperial March interesting is John Williams’ adept use of leitmotif in crafting the score. Every time Darth Vader appears on screen some variation of The Imperial March melody is played. Of course, the same is true for other characters but their tunes are not nearly so frightening.

Here’s why: the famous, opening melody of the song does a fantastic job of blending the introductory chords with the subsequent chords in a mini-crescendo. These initial sounds are then contrasted with the quiet strains that follow in the middle. Naturally, the two melodies regroup after the pianissamo movement to engage in a bit of musical banter while building to a powerful crescendo at the end. The final product is the sheer terror of sound when the melody concludes. It almost makes you fear for Captain Needa’s life. No other song in the entire series is so powerful.

One quirky point of note: Many have disagreed with me (even those who have been recent guests in the viewing), but whenever I listen to The Imperial March I hear the Mary Poppins tune in the second movement of the song. For those who recall this embarrassing movie of youth, the words from Mary Poppins that I hear in The Imperial March are “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, the medicine go down.” Does anyone else hear it?

At least one other person does…

Enjoy!

Darth Vader meets Mary Poppins?

Darth Poppins

http://static.vox.com/.shared:v42.33:vox:en_us/flash/MusicPlayer.swf

Song of the Week: Come On Joe

George Strait has proven to be the best medicine for the gloom of finals. I can’t say why but there’s really just something about his brand of country music that delivers a great back drop for studying.

It’s kind of like being at home in Oklahoma, but not really.

Anyway, for the musically inclined but academically afflicted, the Pax Plena song of the week delivers the perfect ambiance while cracking the books. For the deep southerners, it might even remind you of a night on the bayou.

In terms of lyrics, I won’t belabor what should rightfully be listened to, but I will quickly add that the lyrics tell a fun if not morose story. It goes to show, one never knows what to expect on a ‘six pack high’ and a full moon.

Direct from George Strait’s top country album in 2006, It Just Comes Natural, please enjoy the Pax Plena Song of the Week, Come on Joe.

Lyrics and goodies follow after the jump.

Come on Joe
by George Strait

Well, it’s a long, hot night
And the stars are shining kinda extra bright
Sitting on the back porch glidin’
Whetting my appetite

Well, I’m a six-pack high
And start missing the light of my baby’s eyes
Wasn’t it beautiful, the kind of a soul they said would never die

Well, it’s muggy in the shack
And the backwoods are black
‘Cause the clouds hid the moon away
The light from my cigarette flickers in the dark
The only way she knows I’m here
Then suddenly the sounds of the fiddles and accordions
Sweetly begin to play and I can almost hear her sweet voice say

Chorus:
Come on Joe, just count to ten
Pull yourself together again
And come on Joe, you gotta get hold of this mood you’re in
Come on Joe, you gotta be strong
You’re still young and life goes on to carry on
‘Til we’re together again

Hey, I know she’s right
But it’s hard to fight when you’re hurtin’ so
I tried to walk out of that door before but I just can’t go
With the tears and the laughter in every rafter in every room
Wasn’t it beautiful
Wasn’t it the kind of happiness and glow

Chorus

Come on Joe
Hey, come on Joe
To carry on ’til we’re together again

Addendum: If you need a bit of hilarity on your Wednesday, check out the country line dance video to the Pax Plena song of the week below. Aside from the first thirty seconds where the instructor stands there awkwardly, it’s really not a bad lesson.

What’s the catch? This “muziek” video is in Dutch so it could be a drop difficult to understand! Country line dancing in Amsterdam? Fair enough. I guess they’re no worse at dancing in Amsterdam than the beginners are back in Dallas.

Song of the Week: Wrapped

With the crush of finals looming, blogging may be scarce. But certainly no more so than the Pax Plena Song of the week.

Regardless I see the error of my ways.

This week’s song has made many a hot afternoon in Tucson pass with a hint of western swing. The lyrics tell a classic country tale of loss and unrequited love. Who knew country music could be so Petrarchan? You can almost hear the jukebox playing the tune at your local watering hole or in the radio of a dusty pick-up.

Then again, we would expect nothing less from the reigning king of country music George Strait.

Direct off his 2006 album “It Just Comes Natural”, our song of the week Wrapped is Strait’s 55th #1 hit on the country billboards. Please excuse the video but do enjoy! Lyrics follow after the jump.

Wrapped
by George Strait

I didn’t have to turn my head whenever you walked in
The only one to let these chills roll down my skin
My heart beats faster, I hear your name
I feel my confidence slippin’ away

Chorus:
I thought I was doin’ fine
‘Bout to get you off my mind
I see your face and then I’m
Wrapped around your pretty little finger again

It feels like ages since you laid down in my arms
I see no good reason but still I’m tangled in your charms
My God, you’re smilin’ and you catch my eye
My heart is pounding deep inside

Chorus

Ain’t gonna let no man go down without a fight
‘Cause my stalls and walls look better in the bright day light
My heart beats faster, I call your name
I feel my confidence slippin’ away

Chorus

Your pretty little finger
Baby, I’m wrapped around your pretty little finger
Pretty little finger

Song of the Week: I Wish You’d Stay

The Pax Plena song of the comes to you, admittedly, a bit late. I blame it on the irregularity of selecting songs from my iTunes library. While the process yields variety, it takes a while before one song strikes me with an unexpected trip down memory lane. Only those eliciting such reactions make the cut.

Nevertheless, a few weeks ago we featured Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning and billed it as a gospel hymn to romance. If Sinatra is the gold standard of his milieu, then Brad Paisley’s I Wish You’d Stay is its country equivalent.

Released in 2001 on Paisley’s second country album, I Wish You’d Stay tells the story of romance gone wrong. It speaks artfully to the complex emotions that seem to go hand in hand with unrequited love.

What makes it a powerful piece despite its traditional country pastiche is the universality of emotion conveyed in the lyrics. Simply put, we’ve all been there before. Love slips away. Nights grow cold. We want a mulligan. But it is not to be. The vividness of feeling is captured by Paisley’s singing style and aptly demonstrates this complexity through verse. And in so doing, Paisley creates a song that all but says what we would like to say, if only we could find the strength.

Naturally, the song has some special meaning to yours truly. Specific references are made to Sallisaw, Oklahoma for the faithful reading back home. References also abound to Tennessee- a state not without some faint impression in my lost annals of mind. But the application could well be made by anyone who has ever loved and lost.

So, to those burning the midnight oils, traveling the information superhighway, and to those lost in wistful memories of what might have been, please enjoy the Pax Plena song of the week, I Wish You’d Stay.

The song appears below courtesy of Songza.com for your immediate listening gratification. For those interested, the video lacked an embedding function (blast you BMG Records), but it can be seen here.

http://songza.com/e/listen

I Wish You’d Stay

I talked to my sister in Memphis
And I told her you were movin’ to town
Here’s her number
She said she’d be glad to show you around
I left a map on your front seat
Just in case you lose your way
But don’t worry, once you reach Sallisaw
It’s all interstate

I know you need to go
But before you do I want you to know, that I

Wish you the best
And I wish you nothing less
Than every thing you’ve ever dreamed of
And I hope that you find love along the way
But most of all
I wish you’d stay

I figure right about sundown
You’ll be in West Tennessee
And by then
Maybe I’ll understand why you had to leave

I know that you’ve done some changin’
And I know there’s no changin’ your mind
And yes I know
We’ve been through this a thousand times

I’m sorry for still holdin’ on
I’ll try to let go and I’ll try to be strong, and I’ll

Wish you the best
And I wish you nothing less
Than every thing you’ve ever dreamed of
And I hope that you find love along the way
But most of all
I wish you’d stay

Yeah, everything you’ve ever dreamed of
And I hope that you’ll find love along the way
But most of all
I wish you’d stay
I wish you’d stay

Song of the Week: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Having been up the better part of the past 24 hours this Pax Plena song of the week seems only appropriate. Last week we featured southern gospel. This week a gospel of romance. If that were so, Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning would easily be among the hymns. Nary has there been a time when such simple lyrics were so profound.

Sinatra has long been considered the gold standard of the crooner era. But what makes this recording especially unique is that it was recorded in just three days during a lengthy session in March of 1954. It would go on to become Ol’ Blue Eyes first full 12-inch LP, and the first concept album ever released. The album itself consisted primarily of ballads; it’s theme according to wikipedia “organized around a central mood of late-night isolation and aching lost love.”

There’s really no describing what ought to be listened to so I will simply add that the song is absolutely as billed above. For those who have loved and lost, for those who have embraced the early hours of twilight, for those who have merely wondered from afar, this song is for you. Please enjoy the Pax Plena song of the week, Sinatra’s own In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

In the wee small hours of the morning,
While the whole wide world is fast asleep,
You lie awake and think about the girl,
And never ever think of counting sheep.

When your lonely heart has learned its lesson,
You’d be hers if only she would call.
In the wee small hours of the morning,
Thats the time you miss her most of all.

Song of the Week: I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

My favorite guilty pleasure in posting the Pax Plena Song of the Week segment is the quiet aside I get to spend traipsing among memories past, listening to the songs I select.

For many who grew up and attended church in the south, I suspect this song of the week will surely bring an abundance of memories all their own. Written during the golden age of itinerant preaching, Ira F. Stanphill’s 1950 hymn I Know Who Holds Tomorrow melds the delicate lyrics of contemplation with a soft melody that grows in strength and truth.

The legend behind the hymn according to a religious blog is that Stanphill wrote I Know Who Holds Tomorrow during the dissolution of his marriage. According to acquaintances, Stanphill’s wife grew tired of his ministry during its zenith and left him to pursue a career of her own in entertainment. Sadly, she was killed in a car crash sometime thereafter. The lyrics aptly convey the emotions of listlessness and doubt Ira Stanphill encountered while going through such a difficult period in life.

What makes the song especially meaningful to yours truly is that it so accurately reflects the present nature of life’s spatial plane. For the recovering poets among us, Stanphill’s song may bring to mind of Yeats’ reflections on autumn:

“Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us with a kiss and a tear on they drooping brow.”

If Yeats reminds us that seasons of passion and love are perennially moving targets, then Stanphill simply extends the metaphor a bit further to say that all of life is a moving target; and the only certainty we have is vested in the One Who Holds Tomorrow.

The conclusion, then, for twenty-somethings, is that the most steadfast, bedrock, take-it-to-the-bank promise of life is uncertainty. Or to put it more abstractly, uncertainty is our only certitude. And it is exactly this certitude that is so beautifully captured in song by Stanphill. The lesson of I Know Who Holds Tomorrow is that even inasmuch as we try to figure it all out, we cannot know which course is the best in life until hindsight blinds us by the force of its illumination. The song simply communicates that this is as it should be, for all of life is trial and error.

Given my present circumstance, the reality of uncertainty as embodied in the Stanphill song is intriguing. So often, I try to micro-manage my life even down to the quarter-hour. But the reality is that I’m not guaranteed the next second much less the next 15 minutes, half-hour, or day – much less tomorrow. This is not to say that the particular message of the song is that we are without choice. Even while we may feel subject to the fates, we are in control of the choices we make between hither and yon. Indeed, it is somewhat reassuring in the song that we have been in control all along. What the song does is┬áreassure us that this moment is not all there is, even though it is all we have been given.

The broader point of the song, then, is that we can never know what tomorrow holds for our lives unfold in a series of moments. And the Giver of Moments stands by, holds our hand, and tells us, ‘this uncertainty is, ok.’

With this in mind, please enjoy the robust baritone of Gospel Music Hall of fame legend George Younce as he sings Ira Stanphill’s I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
By Ira F. Stanphill

I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.

I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden’s getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.

There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

I don’t know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.

And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand…