Sunday, August 23, 2009

Priceless Moments

Scottish Lass and her mum are out at the beach with me and the beagles. She's in New York for a week to help with wedding planning, but they are taking a break to relax out here for a couple of days.

So we began talking about the service and the music we will have at the church. Now, two types of music that completely rock me to my core are hymns and bagpipes. There are a few hymns (e.g., "Eternal Father") that I simply cannot get through without tears welling up. That's because some of my most powerful musical memories are sitting in the enormous sanctuary of St. Thomas Church (where the ceremony will be) and listening to the earth-shattering organ and the high-floating voices of the Choir. I am certain that my love of harmony and counterpoint comes from those experiences. When the great organ moves the harmony under the melody, I am rocked to my core. When the choir sings the descant, I am frozen with joy.

So I was playing my favorite hymn, "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones," an old tune beautifully harmonized by Ralph Vaughn Williams, for Scottish Lass and she agreed that it was beautiful. I couldn't respond, because I already had tears in my eyes.

A few minutes later, SL's mum and I were looking at You Tube to go through potential tunes for our piper (a university friend of SL's dad) to pipe us out of the church. Even though it wasn't appropriate for our situation, she asked to look up "Highland Cathedral." Oddly, this is a tune that was written for bagpipes by two German musicians, but it has quickly become beloved in Scotland and has been proposed as a possible Scottish national anthem. That would be even more bizarre if it happened because it would mean that both the English and Scottish national anthems would have been composed by Germans. Then again, the Windsors are all Germans anyway, so maybe it makes sense.

Well, within about thirty seconds all three of us were looking at each other, unable to speak, with tears in our eyes. I can understand why mum was so choked up. Although they moved to Australia over twenty years ago, they are still deeply Scottish and the words to the tune must be heartbreaking:

There is a land far from this distant shore
Where heather grows and Highland eagles soar
There is a land that will live ever more
Deep in my Heart, my Bonnie Scotland

I don't think I will ever forget the moment.

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