Friday, March 26, 2010

Returning Home

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Return of the Prodigal Son

Thought I'd continue meandering down the musical pathway that Melanie started Wednesday and which Lance continued yesterday :).

A few years ago I wrote a song for Lent. It was part of a project called Keeping Time, Vol 02, a collection of hymns, spirituals and original material on the themes evoked by the liturgical year, recorded by my jazz trio and a couple of guests. Below are my reflections on the song, which were included in the liner notes of the recording. If you'd like to have a listen, click here, then on the song's title, "Returning Home", in the music player on the right.


Lent is a time of coming to ourselves, of realizing the distance we have put between ourselves and God. ...Henri Nouwen said, “The spiritual life starts at the place where you can hear God’s voice.” As Jesus so wisely said, it takes ears ready to hear to really listen, and eyes ready to see to really perceive. Coming to ourselves prepares us to return home, regardless of how home is understood.
Kenneth T. Lawrence, ed. Imaging the Word Volume I

Stirred by the truths in Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son (inspired by and named after Rembrandt’s painting), I set out to compose a new song that would somehow convey what “returning home” sounded like. After I finished it and played it, I was moved to tears. I don't know why, exactly. Maybe I was a bit more fatigued than usual that morning. Maybe the emotions came because this was the last piece written for this recording – a sort of ‘composer’s homecoming’. Maybe the images and memories evoked by the title of the piece just had a way of tugging at my heart in some uncommon way. Maybe it was because my wife, too, cried the first time she heard it. Who really knows why a particular piece of music grips us so, while another leaves us unmoved? Probably a question best left unanswered.

contributed by Nelson

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