Hello Church Family and Friends,
I had a member after a Sunday service request the text for the Anthem/Offertory we sang on Sunday, September 11th, and I was thinking this might be a good topic for a Monday Musing.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glint on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.
The author of this beautiful text is disputed, but it is believed to have been written by either Mary Elizabeth Frye or Clare Harner in the early-twentieth century. On Sunday, keen observers in the congregation would have noticed there were two musical settings of this poem that were offered in service: one by the First United Choir for the Anthem, and one by bass-baritone Wayne Allen. Interestingly, the text itself is not a sacred text. In the case of the setting by Canadian composer Eleanor Daley that was performed for the anthem, it is “made sacred” by virtue of the fact it is part of her Requiem, a staple of Christian mass-settings. The poem offers reconciliation in the time of grief, in the fact that the one whom they have lost remains with them through the workings of nature. This message echoes with the thousands of lives that were and are continually affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Further, Rev. Hoke-McCall in her sermon referenced “stones of remembrance,” and being able to find the presence of God even in the midst of tragedy. Much like the soul in the above poem, we are able to find God in those “thin places” Rev. Hoke-McCall spoke about on Sunday. Or perhaps the speaker in the poem can be thought of as Jesus Christ, who miraculously was resurrected on the third day, and has remained as a presence on Earth ever since. Hence the final couplet of the poem: “Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there; I did not die.”
Eric Douglas Meincke
Director of Music, First United Church of Bloomington