Saturday, August 10, 2013

Evening Prayers

Here I am saying my nighttime prayers at the cribside of my baby sister. The Sunbonnet Sue baby quilt has miraculously survived and now rests in my linen closet. The year is early 1940. That another Great War is coming is not even suspected by the two of us. My sister is doing well after a rough start. Born prematurely, she weighed but three pounds, and lost a third of that before she began to survive. The hospital had only one Isolette for keeping too small babies warm and giving them extra oxygen, and it was already in use for an even smaller baby. By this stroke of luck my sister avoided Retrolental Fibroplasia, the eye problems that many of these babies developed in later life as a result of excess oxygen. This is an abnormal development of blood vessels in the retina, which can also be caused by not enough oxygen. So, doctors have a tough call to make while treating these babies.

Religion was an important part of my upbringing and during all my early life. I was brought up in a Mormon home, and although I am no longer religiously observant, the history of my maternal grandparents, my husband's grandparents, and their participation in the Mormon migrations and the Westward movement are very important and interesting to me, and a definite part of who I am.

This morning I awoke with the hymn As The Dew From Heaven Distilling sounding softly in my head. it has a beautiful melody and I have been singing it to myself all day. S just told me the words in Spanish the way they sang it in Argentina. So I had to look it up. It is a Mormon Hymn, some of the hymns in the LDS hymnal also are sung by other Protestant churches and some, like this one, were written for Mormon use., and most probably are not sung by other denominations.

As the dew from Heaven distilling

 As the dew from heav'n distilling
Gently on the grass descends
And revives it, thus fulfilling
What thy providence intends,

Let thy doctrine, Lord, so gracious,
Thus descending from above,
Blest by thee, prove efficacious
To fulfill thy work of love.

These are the first two verses, for the citation, the music and the other two verses, click on the link above.
I am talking about this tonight largely because of the rhyming and metrical pattern of these lyrics. A poet who can rhyme gracious with efficacious so effortlessly deserves our respect.

I have been thinking about hymns lately because the water exercise group I belong to sings hymns and other songs while we do about 45 minutes of water exercises. Often we sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic. (Try it! It's a good exercise tune!) and I knew three verses, but now I have discovered that there are five!  I find the structure of the lyrics and the choice of vocabulary very interesting, and plan to discuss this in another post. But for tonight, Sing Me To Sleep. That's the title of a song my voice teacher, Mrs. Louise Newkirk taught, and matter for another memory thread.

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