Sunday, March 11, 2018

Music to My Ears

Music can lull a child to sleep. Gentle tunes that accompany the rocking motion in a grandmother’s or mother’s arms to soothe an upset or tired child and help her go to sleep. I have often held a child and put him to sleep while rocking and humming or singing, so I guess my voice is not too hard to bear.
While creating this post, I’m listening to soothing music, alternating piano and classical, and if I don’t fall asleep at the keyboard, you’ll hear what else I have to write. While I enjoy a wide variety of classical music, I also love many popular tunes that carry a melodic rhythm. But for resting, I want something that is gentle and relaxing and without words. 

I don’t remember our mother singing us to sleep but perhaps she did, or maybe my grandmother did when she lived with my parents for a few of their early years. I sang to my children at bedtime and now I sing or hum to my grandchildren when I have occasion to settle them for a nap or nighttime. Only when they’re older do they sometimes tell me to stop singing. Can’t win them all.

On a different note, my mother would say some piece of news was ‘music to her ears’ and I might be tempted to use the same expression from time to time. News I’ve long awaited, surprising news that’s happy or unexpected, but very good, might put that line in my head. This phrase is actually an idiom, I discovered. Oxford Dictionary of Idioms says that ‘music to your ears’ means “something that is very pleasant or gratifying to hear or discover.” There’s no mention of musical tones or rhythm or notes at all, just good news.

Tragic news would not be the kind we wish to hear, but news of an exceptional accomplishment, a long-awaited win or news of a new baby born to delighted parents is the kind I speak of.

Maybe we should recoin the phrase ‘music to my ears,’ but I don’t know how else I’d rephrase it. Idioms often mean something quite different than the words used in the term, but this one is easy to understand, I think. Something that’s easy to hear could ring like a melody. It might not rhyme or have a rhythm but is pleasant to take in and repeat. Like music.

As a Christian in an often difficult and sad world, the news that God loves us so much that he sent his son (John 3:16) might ring like music in our ears. Not the false words that led to betrayal. Not the cruel beating or hanging on the cross. Not the disciples running away because they’re afraid, but the act of love. That’s it — ringing like music in our ears. The gladness that comes Easter morning when we finally come out of those gloomy last days of Lent and Holy (hellish) Week. The hallelujahs ring like music in our ears.

I haven’t fallen asleep yet with the relaxing tunes floating from my speakers, but had I not been working towards the deadline of a post, I might have been tempted to turn off my computer sooner and say ‘goodnight.’ The music has been repetitive in rhythm but it is soothing, like ‘charms to soothe the savage breast,’ wrote William Congreve in The Mourning Bride, 1697. I think Shakespeare would have liked the line too.

Carolyn Wilker is an author, editor, workshop leader and enjoys music.

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

An enjoyable read, Carolyn. Your sentence, "Something that’s easy to hear could ring like a melody," immediately set ringing in my mind and heart lines from the old gospel hymn: "In my heart there rings a melody . . . There rings a melody of love." :) ~~+~~

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