Pre-pandemic, I was a fairly regular attendee of a weekly Catholic Mass. However, I was not as hard-core about it as my parents. These are folks who, on marathon family road trips across the U.S., would be sure to find whatever Catholic Church we might be passing in Wamsutter, Wyoming, on a Saturday evening or Sunday, so that we could meet our Mass obligation. (To be fair, I think my father was more hard-core about this than my mom.)
Anyway, one of the things I like best about Mass, and one of the things I miss most, is listening. Not necessarily to the homilies, which can be hit or miss depending on the orator. But I miss listening to the readings and the music. Between the Old Testament readings and the Epistles, many times, something new will strike my ears. Of course, there’s nothing new about the readings themselves; but with the passage of time, I gain new experiences that bring a different perspective. So maybe it’s more apropos to state that I bring a new set of ears.
Case in point, several years ago, I especially noticed one of the songs used during a Mass I attended. The song was “How Can I Keep From Singing.” Now, this song dates back to the 1860s, credited to a Baptist minister named Robert Wadsworth Lowry. And I also discovered that Enya covered this song in the 1990s. So there’s a pretty good chance that I had heard this song before I took special notice of it.
The new set of ears I brought to this song relates to being married to a man who likes to sing. Tim comes up with a song for everything. This usually works out well for the both of us, since I like to listen. But from hearing the very first verse — “My life flows on in endless song” — I thought, that’s Tim!
It’s really a lovely song, too. Here’s another sampling of the lyrics:
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing
It finds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?
From a certain point of view, I can say I have Mass to thank for introducing me to a beautiful, hopeful, song, that always makes me think of my husband. I can live with that.
If you’re curious, here’s an appealing rendition from Audrey Assad: