Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Joseph's Song

To my surprise, I’ve been asked to sing at both services of church on Sunday. Not only has it been a long time since I sang, but I’m floored that my parent’s church has asked. Maybe they think I can’t decimate a Christmas song too much.

I’ve chosen “Joseph’s Song” originally recorded by Michael Card. It’s a simple little piece that I’ve always loved. It doesn’t stretch the range too much, but it’s so theatrical and that appeals to me.

It’s rare that we see or hear something from Joseph’s point of view. In fact, after the birth we know very little. His is an important part of the story, in some ways forgotten and disregarded. This little song makes up for that in so many ways.

As I have been rehearsing it, I have found myself getting emotional to the point of sometimes not being able to get through it. I’ve done this song many times during the holidays, back when I was singing regularly. It is one of a very small handful that I always got requests for.

Like a Stephen Curtis Chapman piece as it is deceptively simple. While not difficult to sing, I can actually do all three keys on the accompaniment track, which is rare. It’s the lyrics that make it complex, compelling and moving.

The song sings and listens like a stage play, with a defined three acts, each with its own conclusion. The words themselves roll easily off the tongue. As I’ve been rehearsing, They have struck chords of confusion, acceptance and love with subplots of anger, submission and faith.

I love the setting of the song. For those unfamiliar with it or the Judeo-Christian story of Christ’s birth, the setting of the song is Joseph, husband to Mary, holding the Christ child in his arms and talking with God. The song glides through all the emotions of a father holding his child and the first realization of all the responsibility that entails.

When I performed the song before, I always felt it was about Joseph’s choice, made months before the birth. Now I’ve come to realize that it is more about the moment, the conflicting emotions of that choice and how to carry on.

In oh so many ways, the legacy of Joseph is the realization of the circumstances of a life accepting the impossible and fearlessly forging into the strange unknown. In this song, he is at the very moment when everything he had been told, everything he believed in, waited for, prayed fervently for and had faith in has come to life, and is innocently sleeping in his arms.

For the first time, I think I understand the thoughts that had to have been running through his head. I’ve never totally comprehended the whole story in human terms. I've also found that when you can make a realistic connection the more mariaculous it all becomes.

Maybe it’s the maturity of my own faith. Possibly it’s the realization that there is a parallel, though in no way ‘supernatural’ with the point I now stand in my own life.

As I sang the words before, I had no real connection to the song, other than similar emotions of theatricality I could recall and use. Now as the words, hopefully in tune, come from my mouth there is now a common real emotion that breathes to life as I sing.

I understand the fear of being at a place in time so powerful I am not sure in which direction to step. I believe with no doubt that there is a reason why I have reached this point, but deal with the struggle of whether or not the whys of how I got here are important. I am overwhelmed with the responsibility of making sure the next step I take forward is done with confidence and direction.

And I know the confusion and hurt of being a fallible human and needing to know the reason behind it all. I feel the fear with every breath of not being prepared to be go through the moment I now find myself in. I am consumed by the moment itself, wanting to go back and change just a few things so that I can truly enjoy the moment, to absorb it more fully, understand it and use the knowledge to take on the next.

Like Joseph in this song, I also cling to the promise, the hope and protect the innocence of what I hold in my arms. For Joseph it was the baby who would become known as Jesus Christ, who would, no matter what your stance, religion or beliefs, in arguably changed the world.

For me, I only hold what’s left of my heart, my dreams and my life. I know there is something there worthwhile. I’m just not sure how to get all the pieces put together into the puzzle that will best fulfill the plan.

I am joyous that I have a chance to sing again, if only the one time. I am thrilled at a chance to do something creative and am blessed that such a simple little song can be used as catharsis for my own emotions.

While I doubt that my three minutes of warbling will change the world, I do look forward to the possibility that it will touch someone if only for a moment and make them understand whatever is deigned in their hearts they need to understand and carry on.