The Small Joys in Our Lives

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is JOY, which is a very fitting word for the season. We’ve been hearing all about joy this past week, as we’ve been listening to Christmas programs put on by various of our parochial schools across North America. Two nights ago we heard the one from Buhl, Idaho; last night we listened to the school program from Lime Springs, Iowa – and after that, Christmas songs by our own school children here.

Though we can’t visit these schools in person to hear the carols and stories told, thanks to the technology of streaming we can get in on the joyful celebration surrounding the birth of Jesus, the hope and light of all the world. We still get a thrill as we hear the children singing the old familiar carols and also enjoy the new ones being introduced each year.

And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for , behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

The angel’s message still circles the globe and floods this old world with hope. God has reached down to man in the form of Jesus Christ; we can be reconciled to our Creator. Also, we now have Jesus’ teachings and example of living in peace with our fellow humans.

Naturally speaking, joy may not be the first word that comes to mind. Because the incidence of COVID -19 has been on the rise in our province, restrictions are tightening up more and more. Families won’t be gathering if private homes are limited to five people at a time.

With more restrictions starting Dec 26th, or traditional Boxing Day sales will likely be rather a fizzle this year. According to space-per-person guidelines, only so many people will be allowed into stores at a time – and if it’s cold enough, folks aren’t apt to stand around outside waiting to get in. Most of us, if we’re honest, will admit that we have enough stuff now, but I hope our merchants can weather this storm. All this gives us a special joy to look forward to next year: the time when Covid-19 is a thing of the past.

For us right now, the kitten we found on our doorstep a month ago – such a lively little puffball – has brought many smiles and small joys into our lives. We’re so thankful we discovered him there before Angus could chase him away and/or something awful happened to him.

Tuffy looks quite much like this.
Image by Ben Scherjon at Pixabay

Tunes: The Surrey or Just the Fringe?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was FRINGE

When I saw the prompt word this morning my mind immediately went to a snatch of song from back in childhood. I don’t remember anything of the words or music, just the line “the nice little surrey with the fringe on the top.”

Now, who wrote that song? What were the words? When was it popular? A thousand blessings on the unseen folk who have answered all the questions people put to Google!

The song was written by Richard Rodgers and comes from the musical play, “Oklahoma.” I see another song listed as well, one that was very popular in its day. I can hear again in memory the whole cheerful chorus:
“Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day!
I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way.”
It’s easy to remember and to sing; the words are appealing and the music’s a great fit.

With some songs, the words are so-so and would get nowhere without their tune. As I read over the song, “The Surrey With the Fringe on the Top,” I can’t see anything especially “musical” or appealing about the words, so I conclude it’s one where the tune was the surrey and the words were the fringe. (Click HERE to read the lyric, if you wish.)

Many songs have great lyrics that touch our hearts. They’d easily stand alone as a poem – and a lot were poems, finally set to music. Our national anthems, songs of home and family, love and courage, longing for the old folks or the girl left behind. For example:
“Way Down Upon the Swanee River…”
“When you and I were young, Maggie…”
“By yon bonny banks and by yon bonny braes…”

I don’t know if there’s been a more prolific poet than the blind Christian writer, Fanny Crosby. She wrote more than 8000 verses, many of which ended up as gospel songs and have been paired with the perfect music – lively, or slow and thoughtful – for carrying the message.

“All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.”

Jane Taylor’s Verse

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is TWINKLE.
I know this isn’t original, but my thoughts automatically went to the little song, so I’m going to post it. I had no idea there were so many verses!
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star was written by Jane Taylor, an English poet and novelist (1783 – 1824). She lived to be only 40 years old and probably never dreamed, as she penned the poem, that the first verse would echo through the centuries in children’s choruses all over the world.
Flourish.plainer
Stars.night.David MarkTwinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
How could he see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so?
In the dark blue sky you keep,
Often through my curtains peep
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark
Lights the traveler in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Today’s Your Song

I see one more writing challenge has been posted: Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt. This time we have a tough one, to write something (sensible?) in ten words, but I’ll give it a shot.

You can use any format or style you like; go wherever your inspiration takes you.  The only rules are these:

— your poem / prose must contain this week’s word.  The word does not have to count towards the exact word count total – it can be in the title, or the first letters of the lines of a poem can spell it out – you can be as creative as you want as long as it’s there somewhere.
the length of your poem / prose must match the number of words stated in this week’s challenge.  No more.  No less.

Here’s my response:

Music + verse.2nd

Take My Hand, Precious Lord

This morning’s Ragtag Daily Prompt was HOLD MY HAND, a line that brings to mine one of my favorite—and one of the most beautiful—Gospel songs:

Take My Hand, Precious Lord, Lead Me Home

When my way grows drear, precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

Chorus:
Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

When the shadows appear and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

Chorus…

CLICK HERE if you wish to hear this song

The writer of this beautiful hymn was Thomas Andrew Dorsey, in Georgia in 1899 and died Jan. 1993. From 1932 Dorsey was choral director of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago. He founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in Chicago in 1933, serving as its president for 40 years.

There’s a very touching story behind this song. He and his wife were married seven years and she was expecting their first child. He was called to sing in Gospel meetings in St Louis, MO, and she encouraged him to go. During one meeting he was handed a telegram that she had gone into labor and died in childbirth. Their son lived only a few hours. Visiting with a friend a few days later, seeking consolation for his deep grief, he sat down at a piano and composed this song.

Something Precious

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today was SOMETHING.

We had our usual Sunday morning service, then company came for dinner, and I’ve been reading a novel this evening. So I’m very late getting something written, but here’s my little verse:

I’ve heard exquisite music
some philharmonic’s played,
and been in great cathedrals
to hear skilled voices raised.

At times a passionate solo
brings a lump to my throat;
and my heart has been inspired
by a quartet’s rousing notes.

But so much more exquisite
are the tunes of our own crew
in the evening when we’re singing
those old songs tried and true.

There’s something so appealing
when childish tones ascend
to join with ours in melody;
as the evening hours end.

And “the night is filled with music”
as the long-gone poet said;
the home with joy keeps ringing
when we’ve all gone off to bed.