Sacred Music: Peace, Be Still

anguish

Like so many, I was devastated by the policy changes in November 2015, and now, eight months later, I still have no peace about it.  I feel like I’ve been knocked down by difficult things in the church before, but this is the first time that I’ve felt like I’ve had a festering, open wound that won’t heal.  To me, it feels so at odds with how I understand our theology, how I understand the teachings of Christ, and how I understand our responsibilities to one another in the work of building Zion.  I feel like there is a wound in the body of Christ, and until the wound is directly addressed and cared for, it just won’t heal, and will be left to fester.  My relationship with the institutional church has felt messy and broken since it came out, and I know many who have felt the pain even more acutely than I have.

A fellow blogger, EmilyCC, posted this song by Nate Noble on Facebook shortly after the policy announcement, and I’ve clung to it ever since, sometimes playing it on repeat over and over.  It’s inspired by the hymn, “Master, the Tempest is Raging,” which hasn’t ever been a favorite of mine (in fact, I can barely sing it without laughing after reading a comment on a By Common Consent post about a mission president who outlawed singing the hymn “like pirates”), but instead of being the bright, churning tune that’s found in the hymnbook, this version is solemn and anguished.  Originally written in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed over 6,000 in the Philippines in 2013, it’s a song that feels like the despair that comes after a massive tragedy, when you’re looking around at the destruction and don’t know how to move forward.

The second verse is particularly moving to me:

Master, in anguish of spirit, I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled, Oh, waken and save, I pray.
Torrents of sin and of anguish sweep over my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! Dear Master, hasten and take control.

Another thing I love about this song is that, despite singing the first two verses of “Master, the Tempest is Raging,” it doesn’t include the third verse.  The third verse of the song talks about the torrent being over, and of the peace and rest that’s found in the Savior.  But this song doesn’t end so neatly – instead, it sits in that place of pain and grief a little longer.  In ending with the plaintive plea of “please, Lord, help our unbelief,” it seems to recognize that not all tempests are immediately calmed, and that not all wounds quickly heal.  It leaves room for things to be messy and hard a little longer, which is exactly why it has been such a balm to me over the past eight months.

This song is available for purchase on iTunes, and the sheet music is available for purchase on BandCamp.

Liz

Liz is a reader, writer, wife, mother, gardener, social worker, story collector, cookie-maker, and hug-giver.

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4 Responses

  1. EmilyHB says:

    All I can do is tell you how much I am with you on this. I keep wondering when this situation is going to be resolved, and know that whenever that time comes, it will be too late for a lot of people who were victims of the tempest. Anyway, great song — thanks for putting it out there.

  2. Kirsten says:

    Liz– I wish you still lived in my ward! I feel as you do. The thing that adds to my disquiet is the fact that so many seem to have “moved on” and see the policy change as something over and done with. I still feel it acutely and have shared my feelings with my bishop– who, by the way, is amazing and has responded to with genuine compassion and concern. (Liz- new bishop) I have worn a rainbow pendant with “I’ll Walk With You” on it since November. It used to be mainly for those LGBT people who might need a friendly face or someone to sit with. Now perhaps it takes on another purpose– to remind everyone that things aren’t “over and done with” and that the tempest is still raging for so many who feel caught in the storm.

  3. Jenny says:

    Thank you for this Liz!! Although, I finally feel peace about this issue (well, I’m not sure peace is the best word. Perhaps a “happy place” that isn’t really happy… it’s not acceptance, but… I’ll have to figure out a term), this so applies to me with different situations within the church and leadership. I so admire that you still go to church. That you have tried, and are trying to find that peace. I think we all know what it’s like to have every reason in the world to stop attending and withdraw our participation, but for whatever reason we continue on. Hopefully that “peace” or at least the hope will come and sustain both of us.

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