Sacred Music: Peace, Be Still
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.