How many of us have been brought to the BCBP because of the songs that we have heard during our first breakfast? In personal sharings, a brother or a sister would say “I came back to the breakfast because of the unique and beautiful songs, etc…”.Yes, I came to the Brotherhood because of the song “Isaiah 60”, which was the opening song during my first breakfast, and I believe it was through the promptings of the Holy Spirit (where would Chapter Joe be now if not for the song???) that I am now in His vineyard.
When I was in high school, I learned how to play the guitar and with it I learned how to sing. Time was when girls became close to me because they said I had a good voice. This prompted me to join amateur singing contests. True enough I did win some – and lost some – but that was enough to win some of the hearts of beautiful barrio lasses. It was okay then to serenade them even at two in the morning.
In college, I joined the UERMMC choral group known then as the Singing Medics. In 1967, we were invited to join the National songfest festival held at the Abelardo hall in U.P. Dilliman. Beating top universities and colleges in Manila, we were declared the Grand National champion. Of course, my number one fan was my girlfriend Hedy. Three years later, she became my wife. Truly music is the universal language of the soul.
Frank “the voice” Sinatra’s song ” You will be my music, you will be my song” became a big hit when he sang the song for Ava Gardner. The romantic interlude that ensued is history (hope this is not a senior moment!).
In the practice of psychiatry, music is one of the armamentaria that we use in healing psychiatric patients. The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Artistotle and Plato. Music therapy started after World War 1, when community musicians of all types, both amateurs and professionals, went to veteran hospitals to play for thousands of veterans suffering from physical and emotional trauma during the war. The patients’ notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals.
A 41 year old female patient in my clinic came out of severe depression when she heard a beautiful song sung during a hospital program. Several sessions later she got well. Of course with the advent of psychospiritual therapy it was God who healed her.
David used music and songs often and in many different situations. In the second book of Samuel, when David learned of the death of King Saul and his best friend Jonathan, he mourned and became depressed. Then he chanted an elegy for them which is recorded in the book of Jashar singing “… I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother, most dear have you been to me: ” In Samuel 2 chapter 22 David sings a song of thanksgiving to the Lord when the Lord rescued him from the grasp of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. Many other of David’s songs are recorded in the songbook of the Bible, the Psalms.
In my 19 years of being in the Brotherhood, when I am brought to a barren desert in my spiritual life, when I suffer from a spiritual ‘flat tire’, when I see brothers and sisters hurting each other and losing their focus on the Lord, when their service is more important than shepherding or caring for each other, I turn to the Book of Psalms, strum my guitar and sing to God “a brand new canticle”. I call for Hedy as she always has a ready shoulder to lean on. Ahhh! Chapter Joe is once again recharged.
Recently, I received an email from a brother whom I have not seen or heard from for many years now since he migrated to America, but his words are a fitting reawakening for me when i get lonely. He writes: “I think that your gift of song is a special gift, a special gift that could be prayer in itself…The courage we need now in our sunset years is the courage to be alone in God’s presence. And music certainly helps you when you reach out to heaven.”
Brothers and sisters, let us sing to the Lord as often as we can, be it during our prayer time or in chapter assemblies. When we sing, we pray twice as much. Lord, “Habang buhay isa ang hangad: Umawit sa ‘Yo. (From a CD of a brother “Hangad noon at ngayon”.