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Blog by Alan Seale, October 19, 2020, Intentional Living

The virus is raging. The politics are all-consuming. Life is……well, let’s just say it’s a lot. Sometimes there aren’t any words. In those moments, I often turn to music—music that feeds my soul when life gets hard. 

I’m not talking about “escape” music—music that distracts my thoughts or just changes my mood. I’m talking about music that touches me deep inside. Music that awakens something within me and gives me inspiration and strength to carry on. Perhaps you have your own collection of music that does that for you. 

Different moments and situations draw me to different kinds of music. With some pieces, it is a combination of the music and lyrics that touches me. At other times, there are no lyrics—it’s the depth and power of the music itself. My musical tastes range from classical to world music to folk to blues to jazz. And sometimes I am surprised at how music that I might not have given attention to ends up moving me in some unexpected way. 

As I sit down to write this week, I don’t have many words. Yet my heart and soul are very present, engaged, and full. 

So I share with you three pieces of music that are feeding my soul this week. They are in three very different styles and genres, addressing three different themes:

  • Music for strength and resilience
  • Music for when it’s hard to do what you have to do
  • Music to soothe your aching spirit

Perhaps at least one of them will touch something in you as well—perhaps all three in different ways. And maybe you will feel inspired to choose a particular song or piece of music from your own collection that lifts you up and nurtures your spirit. You are welcome to share it in the Comments section below. 

Music for Strength and Resilience

As COVID lockdowns return in many countries, I can’t stop hearing in my head a modern-day spiritual, “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down.” A friend shared this video with me just as the pandemic broke open. The Wartburg College Choir from Iowa in the midwestern United States gives an exciting and deeply moving performance, recorded live in the Wartburg Castle in Germany during a concert tour. “Ain’t No Grave” is an uplifting don’t-let-life-get-you-down anthem. 

The lyrics for the repeated refrain are:

Ain’t no grave can hold my body down
Ain’t no grave can keep us in an underground
I will listen for the trumpet sound
Ain’t no grave can hold my body down

Part of what makes this 4-minute performance so powerful is the highly energized sign language interpretation led by one of the members of the choir. Then mid-way through the performance, there is a completely unexpected and breathtaking surprise. I won’t spoil it for you. Just watch the short video and see where the music and the performance take you.

Music for When It’s Hard to Do What You Have to Do

Although I have already shared this song of Carrie Newcomer in this blog, “You Can Do this Hard Thing” is definitely worth a repeat performance. The lyrics of this folky, soft rock, bluesy song are reassuring and uplifting. And the sound of her voice and her gentle yet reassuring presence wrap you in love and care. Soothing images bring the song to life even more in this 4-minute

Music to Soothe Your Aching Spirit

When my spirit longs for rest, peace, and consolation, Eric Whitacre’s “Alleluia” is one of the first pieces I go to. For me, it is a deeply healing 9-minute meditation journey. Eric Whitacre is widely recognized as the pioneer of virtual choirs. While this particular recording was made by the Eric Whitacre Singers, his “Lux Arumque” (“Light and Gold”), recorded in 2010 with 185 singers from 12 countries, each in their own space, was one of the very first recordings of a virtual choir performance.  

I chose this YouTube version of Whitacre’s “Alleluia” because there are no images—just a musical soundscape. If there is sorrow in your heart or longing in your spirit, take nine minutes for this musical meditation.

Tell Us What Music Lifts You Up and Feeds Your Soul

We are all inspired by different kinds of music. Through each other, we can find new sources of musical inspiration that we may not have been aware of before. What music lifts you up and touches you deep inside? What music gives you strength to carry on? Please share a song or a piece of music that moves you in the Comments section below.