For All the Saints

posted Nov 15, 2012, 1:36 PM by Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder   [ updated Apr 16, 2013, 11:52 AM ]
A Charcoal portrait of Owain Phyfe c. 2005
A Charcoal portrait of Owain Phyfe c. 2005

This song (at the bottom of this post) is written as a tribute to Owain Phyfe, and more generally for all the saints. There’s a little bit of a story about it....

I realize that with with the diversity of my life, not everyone I know will be familiar with Owain, and so I offer this small window of background information:

 Owain Phyfe on stage at the Norman Medieval Fair in 2005Owain Phyfe onstage at the Norman Medieval Fair 2005

Owain Phyfe was a great musician of modern Renaissance tradition. For the last few years, I have had the opportunity and privilege to see him perform in person at the Norman Medieval Fair. (I know he has been at so many other places, but I just don’t get away that much.)

Between my own fair meanderings, I managed to catch snippets of his stage music, and at least a full performance or two. I appreciated the context he brought to his music. His was an act faithful to tradition, and his voice brought a simple clarity of tone to his renditions.
I recall that it was Bruce Cannon (the Bruce) who felt that I should meet him, if only briefly. I am glad that I did. Owain’s voice was wonderful, and equal to his musicianship. His death came disturbingly swiftly, unexpected by many.

Back to the song...

I am currently in the middle of the forty day prayer journal from Unbinding Your Heart by Martha Grace Reese, in which I have been actively listening for the sacred presence in my everyday life. It seems counterintuitive that  such discernment can often be difficult when the church itself is so central in my life. Yesterday I turned an hour over to God, and tried to actively listen to the spirit minute by minute. That was hard, but as I did so I reflected over the last week. I sometimes experience patterns that might otherwise elude my consciousness. At the moment I feel called to share this brief part of that with the world.

A week ago last Saturday, Karen and I attended the funeral of a man who had died rather suddenly. We had just seen him at the Germanfest fundraiser two weeks before, and he looked fine. (Actually, while I attended the funeral, Karen was both attending and working.) That was the day before All Saints Day. That evening I went out to a Celtic music venue, with people who had no idea how I had spent the hours earlier, and Owain Phyfe’s name was mentioned to me there in the spirit of commemoration. Then a little later I had a mental spark. It  kept me up that night... so much so that I had to get up for a brief time and scribble a bit down before I could fall asleep.

This last weekend I was at a faire, and the schedule was such that I did not attend church on Sunday morning. That, of course, does not mean that I did not hear God’s word. A new acquaintance again mentioned the passing of Owain Phyfe to me, and I heard the repetitive teaching nature of the old testament as the spirit whispered to me “remember to commemorate my saints.” This past Monday was Veteran’s Day, the theme of remembering only continued...

I wonder at the coincidence that his name was brought to me on both sides of All Saints Day. Could God be making the point that we are all part of a continuing history which includes not only the people we know, but everyone? We are all the saints. Perhaps it is the spirit whispering in my ear, reminding me that a song was sparked, and needs a voice to be put to it...

I have mentioned to only a very few others that I occasionally hear the spirit “whispering a song in my ear.” What I may not have mentioned is that if I do not follow that voice very soon after, the spark of the music is lost. The longer I wait, the more I lose.

I attempted to act on this song quickly, but it has been drawn out a little over the past several days... I guess I’m glad that I scribbled down what I did after it first came to me. (I first worked through it in A, and I found it easier to write down in G, but I finally transposed it to D as what seemed to be the most singable key, plus the key for most Irish whistles.)

And yes, I know it's theologically light, a sort of prayer for the faith ambiguous. But is anything "too light" when you ask for the presence of the holy spirit?

Lord, we do not always comprehend the ways that you communicate with us. If the bush is burning, we run for the fire extinguisher. We seek closer discernment of your will in our lives and ask that you strengthen our resolve in seeking you. Amen.

(4/11/2013) Postscript
I sang this song twice this past weekend at the Norman Medieval Fair.
Your Voice Will Be Missed.mp3
Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder,
Apr 11, 2013, 7:16 PM
Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder,
Apr 9, 2013, 8:14 AM