Saturday, December 21, 2013

Music's Bridge

"The LORD was ready to save me:
therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life
in the house of the LORD."
Isaiah 38:20
"All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD,
with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God..."
I Chronicles 25:6

"Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise."
Psalm 33:2-3(KJV)

There is so much about music in the Bible.
Worship just seems to call for music....
music that flows from deep inside the heart...
motivated from a well-spring of gratitude to God.

Music is such a comfort to me.
The melody of a song has the amazing capability to compel me backwards....
in an instant...
to another place, another time.

To me, music is a bridge...that connects me from where I am now
to where I used to be....
to Mom and Dad and other family members who have gone on to their reward....
to family still living, but living so far away from me that I only see them on rare occasions.
Each time I hear particular songs...or a certain kind of music....
I can close my eyes and be transported back on wings of memory.

Music is a common element that has bound and united my family for years.

Music is a gift from God.
It is an expression of the soul....
a means of the articulation of our heartfelt worship to Him.

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; 
upon the harp with a solemn sound."
Psalm 92:1,3

Bluegrass has always been the style of music nearest and dearest to my heart.
I have never outgrown my love for it.
To me, it is real...and sincere....and honest....and as down-to-earth as you can get.
No pretense.
No airs.
Just words...and music...sung straight from the heart.

Dad thought bluegrass was the only kind of music there was. :)
He didn't refer to other styles as "music".
He loved the simplicity...the genuineness of the songs.
Here's Dad's Old Kraftsman five-string banjo....
one of my most cherished earthly possessions.

He taught me most of what I know about the guitar,
but as much as I wanted to, I never could catch on to the roll of the banjo.
I can chord, but conquering the roll is something that will probably always evade me.
Many of the members of my family on Mom's side play(ed)
some type of acoustic instrument, too...
and the get-togethers we have enjoyed through the years
are some of the sweetest and fondest memories I have of growing up.

"I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: 
upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee."
Psalm 144:9

Recently, we had a long-overdue get-together with several members of my family,
and, of course, the thing we all gravitated to was music.

Uncle John has been very ill this year, fighting a serious disease.

 How precious it was to see him and Aunt Linda able to sing and play music together again!

What an answer to prayer and gift from our dear Lord!

It brought a deep-down comfort to me to be there that day.
While Zach and the little ones swam in the backyard pool,
the adults made and enjoyed the music.

I so appreciated Kim and Matt opening their beautiful home to host our time together
to make it possible for me to spend time with loved ones so dear to my heart.
What a precious blessing!

Okay, so Chris, is a bit taller than Anna and me...
only by about...oh...say two feet or so!
We never did think he would stop growing!
By the way, we think Anna looks like Kate Middleton.  ;)

It had been years since Jennifer and I got to sing together like that.
(We used to sing together on a weekly Friday night radio program,
strawberry festival, etc.)

Sometimes, you don't realize how much you've missed or needed something,
until you get to do it again.
I'll cherish my memories of that day as long as I live.

Family means so much to me, and to me, music is a big part of family.

There is no harmony in the world like family harmony.

"Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: 
praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: 
praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: 
praise him upon the high sounding cymbals."
Psalm 150:3-5

Speaking of family harmony, we recently discovered a bluegrass group called
The Spinney Brothers,
whose harmony is unbelievable.
Ever heard of them?
Alan Spinney plays the guitar and mostly sings lead,
his brother, Rick Spinney plays the banjo and mostly sings tenor,
but sometimes they switch parts.
What a blessing it is to hear these guys!
They stay true to the old-time bluegrass sound, for sure.
Listening to them reminds Kevin and me of the music we were raised on....
especially the Louvin Brothers,
the Stanley Brothers,
the Osborne Brothers,
the McReynolds Brothers (Jim & Jesse),
Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs,
Mac Wiseman,
and so many others.

They sing a song called, "Old, Roman Soldier", written by David Cooper,
 that will jerk tears from your eyes.
The words are so moving.
And the harmony!
Oh, the harmony!
Honestly, I don't know of anyone who can outshine them 
when it comes to the perfect blending of two voices.
I could sit and listen to these brothers all day long.

Click here if video doesn't load.

Another one I love by them is "Sunday Drive".

Click here if video doesn't load.

That last part made me break down and bawl when Kevin first played it for me.

And, here's yet another....

Click here if video doesn't load.

Don't you just love that old-time, high-lonesome sound?
Boy, does that take me back....
it reminds me so much of the Louvin Brothers, especially.
Dad used to be able to nail that high tenor sound and was often compared to Ira Louvin.

Click here if video doesn't load.

I wish with all my heart Dad could have heard the Spinney Brothers sing.
He would have been their biggest fan.
Dad is listening to angels now instead....
but I wonder how anything could be prettier than the music these two brothers make together?

I wanted to share a few other favorite bluegrass songs of mine,
other than the ones by the Spinney Brothers.

I really love "Wide River To Cross", written by Buddy & Julie Miller.
This one hit a nerve with me the first time I heard it.
I couldn't wait to find out who sang it and get the words down pat.
It is sung by a group called Balsam Range.

I hope you enjoy it.

Click here if video doesn't load.

Can't we all relate to the words in this song?
Don't we all have a wide, wide river to cross?
Life is hard.
Everyone is facing their own struggles.
I don't know anyone who lives life care-free.
Who among us hasn't been through the school of hard knocks?
This song just really speaks to me every time I hear it.

And speaking of everyone facing their own struggles brings me to my next favorite,
"Some Kind of War" by Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers.

 Click here if video doesn't load.

I love this song, written by Bill Anderson.
Could truer words ever be spoken?
We are so quick to judge, condemn, criticize...
when the truth is, none of us really know what the other is going through.
If we did, would we not be a bit more compassionate,
tolerant, patient, and understanding?
The clerk who just snapped at me at the grocery store could be facing her first chemo treatment.
Watching the customers pass through her line...
healthy, vibrant, unaffected by disease...
may have been like pouring salt into the open wounds of her heart.
The cashier at Walmart who refused my repeated attempts at conversation
may be in the middle of a divorce.
Seeing me standing there, holding Kevin's hand, Zachary in tow,
may have been more martial and family bliss than she could take.
The co-worker who rushed past with not so much as the slightest response to "good morning"
may have a teenage daughter who just found out she is expecting an illegitimate child....
the father of the baby being anything but what was hoped for her future.
Uttering the least response may have opened the flood gate of tears held back by a dam of silence.
The pastor who barely utters a word to me on the way out of the church door
may be walking through the darkest, deepest, most desolate spiritual season of his life.
Trying to give encouragement to someone else may be more than he can possibly muster at the moment.
The friend...usually so warm, welcoming, and easy to approach...
who turned her head when I walked in the room
may have just gotten word that her mother's cancer has returned.
Knowing I would burst into tears with her, should she mention it and break down,
may have caused her to turn away until she could compose herself.
The grouchy, old man who snarled when accidentally bumped with my shopping cart
may have just buried his wife of 60 years.
Coming to the store they always shopped in together may have nearly put him over the edge.

"Life itself can be a battlefield, 
and we're all fightin' some kind of war"....
isn't it the truth?

Wouldn't it be best to cut each other a little slack?
Who among us doesn't need a break and some tolerance every now and then?

One of the neat things about Joe Mullins, other than the fact that I love this song,
is that when I was a little girl growing up in southern Ohio,
Mom, Dad, and I used to listen to a bluegrass DJ on WPFB in Middletown, OH,
who went by the name of (Paul) Moon Mullins.
I remember sitting in the car with Mom in front of Globe Tool & Engineering, where Dad worked
listening to Moon Mullins on the radio while we waited for Dad.
When I first heard of Joe Mullins & his current group,
I wondered if he could be related to Moon.
Sure enough, upon looking into it, Joe is none other than Moon's son.

A few years ago, we were first introduced to Joe Mullins' music when
my brother David, sent Mom one of his CDs for her birthday.
He told her there was a song on there that reminded him of her.
I can remember driving down the road with Mom that day,
listening to that CD, tears streaming down her face and mine,
as we listened and realized why it reminded David so much of her.
It turned out that it was a revised version of "Yes, Jesus Loves Me",
sung by Ralph Stanley, Sr., accompanied by Joe and his group.
As we listened,
I kept noticing how sad it was to hear Ralph sounding so much older these days.
I've been listening to his music for as long as I can remember.
It will be a sad day when he has to say "good-bye".

I couldn't find a video to insert, but here are the words.....

Jesus Loves Me - Senior Citizen Version 

Jesus loves me, this I know,
Though my hair is white as snow.
Though my sight is growing dim,
Still He bids me trust in Him.


Though my steps are oh, so slow,
With my hand in His I'll go
On through life, let come what may,
He'll be there to lead the way.

When the nights are dark and long,
In my heart He puts a song.
Telling me in words so clear,
"Have no fear, for I am near."

When my work on earth is done,
And life's victories have been won.
He will take me home above,
Then I'll understand His love

(Wish I could give credit to the writer, but I was unable to identify the author.)

Speaking of Ralph Stanley, brings me to the last song I wanted to mention.
It was written by the late Hank Williams, Sr.
It will always be one of my all-time favorites,
and I don't know anyone who sings it better than another of my other favorite voices to listen to...
Ralph's son, Ralph II.

Click here if video doesn't load.

Hearing these wonderful songs, along with many others, takes me a simpler time....
when I was little...still living at home....
underneath the sheltering love of two parents now eternally resting in the arms of Jesus.
I miss both of them every, single day....
especially and even more so at Christmas.
These songs provide a comforting connection....
a bittersweet bridge...
to those days gone by.

The more I miss Mom and Dad....and the old days, 
the more often I seem to find myself crossing over that bridge.


  1. So.many good memories with families and music and the lessons between them
    I wish I could sing or play an instrument, but God had given me other gifts. I Love to listen to music though. Lifts me up on high.
    Nice seeing pictures of you and family:)

    1. Yes, my dear friend, you have many gifts! Among the top of the list is your incredible gift to encourage others. Thank you so much for stopping by and for once again blessing me today. Love, Cheryl

  2. By the way, I share also words I get from God in my other blog:
    But I am truly blessed reading yours:)

    1. Dear Joy! I don't know how I am only now seeing this comment show up here on my blog! I deeply apologize that I did not respond until now! YES, I have read from your other wonderful blog. So thankful and blessed to join you on this journey to Heaven. So grateful for your fellowship and encouragement. Much love to you!

  3. Thank you, Joy! I will definitely check out your other blog. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Since you love bluegrass and gospel, surely you have heard of or stumbled upon my favorite band, The Isaacs! I will share a couple links with you to some of my favorite songs they sing...and they are amazing instrumentalists as well. Hope you enjoy!

    1. Yes, I surely am familiar with them. Thank you so much for sharing these links. I look forward to listening. :) Much love to you.