"Amazing Grace" - Celebrating our Differences
As I know you probably are, too, I am terribly troubled with what is happening across our country right now, and coupled with the pandemic, it is agonizing.
We have all heard that the United States is a “melting pot.” Merriam Webster's definition is: "a place where a variety of races, cultures, or individuals assimilate into a cohesive whole.” We are an immense country. The idea of being “a cohesive whole” is a tall order. I don’t like the idea of simply “melting” together. I think we should embrace our differences and be proud of our diversity. We are singularly distinctive on this planet because we are a land of immigrants from many different places. Only American Indians are true citizens of the soil, and look how they’ve been treated. Africans were kidnapped from their native land and sold into slavery in this country four hundred years ago, and yet their descendants are being treated like this? We should be apologizing to our African American citizens, not diminishing them. We all need to listen to what Jesus taught us. John 15:12 "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."
In all this heartbreak, though, we just might be at a crossroads where things can change for the better. We might actually ACT and make our country a better place for people of all colors. We must try with all our might to work for the peaceful liberty that our founding fathers framed.
I know that I already offered a post on Amazing Grace a couple of months ago when this all started, but I must come back to this remarkably versatile song. The melody was essentially “written” by African slaves centuries ago, and “borrowed" by a penitent man who penned the words. It gives us hope. All of these lyrics are as relevant today as when they were first written. Maybe more.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
I offer three more versions of it - all very different, but for me, all very moving.
The simplicity of how the melody and lyrics can stand alone without accompaniment is demonstrated beautifully by Whitney Houston.
The version with bagpipes really touches me (I think its the Scot in me) but it also evokes memories of fallen police officers, as it is frequently played by bagpipes for police funerals. In spite of the police brutality that we have seen or learned about, there are many really good cops that put their lives on the line for us every day. The addition of brass and choir and then full pipe band at the end is quite stirring.
As for the one on the organ, I heard it a couple of years back and didn’t like it at first. It didn’t use the melody in a quiet, reflective way, which is traditional and familiar to me. But I came to like it, and and to me now, it expresses the joy and excitement of salvation. We all could certainly use a little joy right now!
Whitney Houston - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uqOoWM6cnE
Pipers, brass, and choir - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-KoqAWnsLM