Tuesday, October 2, 2018

God’s Plan in My Gift of Singing: Part 6 - Music Studies in Edmonton cont’d

Written by  Garth Horn

Phase 11

As another weekly class assignment, I was asked to learn another folk song. Once again I went to the music library and glanced through the song books. I asked the librarian for some ideas of an easy-to-learn folk song and was referred to the song “The Story of Isaac” by Leonard Cohen. The melody line and the key of Em appealed to me. So I learned the song and nervously performed it a few days later in front of my classmates with my singing instructor, Sam, watching and listening intently to my performance.

After class Sam asked me if I knew where the story of the song came from and I said no. He said from the Bible when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. That evening, I looked in my Bible in the book of Genesis and sure enough, there was the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. This was a spiritual eye opener for me about the power of music connecting a folk song to Scripture with religious values for us to contemplate and learn from.

I am closing this chapter with the lyrics of “The Story of Isaac” by Leonard Cohen.

The Story of Isaac by Leonord Cohen - 1969 (taken from  Genesis 22. 1-19)

            The door it opened slowly and my father he came in. I was 9 years old.
            And he stood so tall above me and his blue eyes they were shining
            And his voice was very cold.
            He said “I’ve had a vision and you know I’m strong and holy;
            I must do what I’ve been told.
            So we started up the mountain, I was running, he was walking
            And his axe was made of gold.

            Well the trees they got much smaller, the lake a lady’s mirror,
            we stopped to drink some wine.
            Then he threw the bottle over. It broke a minute later
            And he put his hand in mine.
            But I saw an eagle, but it might have been a vulture,
            I never could decide.
            Then my father built an altar, he looked once behind his shoulder,
            He knew I would not hide.

            You who build these altars now to sacrifice these children,
            You must not do it anymore.
            For you never had a vision and you never have been tempted
            By a demon or a god.
            Yes, you who stand before them now, your hatchets blunt and bloody
            You were not there before.
            When I lay upon a mountain and my father’s hand was trembling
            With the beauty of the word.

            And if you call me your brother now, forgive me if I ask
            According to whose plan?
            And when all comes down to dust I will kill you if I must
            I will help you if I can.
            And when all comes down to dust, I will help you if I must,
            I will kill you if I can.
            Have mercy on our uniform, man of peace or man of war,
            The peacock spreads his fan.

I understood from learning this song the trust and faith Abraham had when God told him to sacrifice his only son and Abraham attempted to do so. This song led me to open up my Bible which had been sitting on the shelf for years. This song led me in asking God for continued guidance on my spiritual path of life. This prayer opened a door of opportunity toward my collecting, listening and learning contemporary Christian music.


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