Soul’s Perfection: A Story of Receptivity

July 25, 2009 at 9:43 am 8 comments

siwonsmilecropI tell you what, this business of planning and programming Inspirational music way ahead of the actual church service is serious stuff.  Generally, I choose solos 4 to 12 weeks in advance of each service.

In order to make those choices, I study the content of each future sermon.  I research available music selections that will highlight an aspect of that sermon or support the overall message.  I also have to get lyrics approved by the folks who maintain the consistency of message within each service.

With planning so far in advance, as I get closer to the actual performance, sometimes I have to rediscover why I chose a piece in the first place.

Here’s an example:  I performed a beautiful song entitled “Soul’s Perfection” by Carolyn Kardinal for a Sunday sermon whose subject was “Everlasting Punishment.” Ugh.  Heavy theme.  But actually, the point of the Lesson-sermon was Redemption — God’s everlasting love for His creation.

During the week leading to the performance of this song, I suddenly found myself very troubled about the lyrics.  I loved the lyrics, but I was suddenly confronted with major doubts.

The original choosing and approval process had been so clear weeks before.  But now I was wrestling alone — like Jacob in the Bible.  The lyrics seemed to not get to the essence of the sermon.  I wanted these lyrics to be a turning point – an upward lift from an otherwise heavy “downer” theme.  Were the lyrics too light in content?  Did I choose amiss?  Would the congregation connect the message of the sermon through these lyrics?  Would this song really support the sermon?  Would it be a healing influence or would it distract thought?  Fears abounded.  This was not a good way to prepare for the coming service.

So I prayed.  I rehearsed.  I searched for the deeper meaning of the lyrics.  I knew what I wanted to say, but I found myself asking, “Should I change this solo last minute to a clearer message, or should I stick to the ship and get through the mental storm?”  Both options seemed to be equally valid.  I just didn’t know what to do.

I got to a point of spiritually demanding an answer (like Jacob).  I would not give up.  I needed to know what to do.  Time was running out.

Then, because I was searching (receptive) and demanding (consecrated to my work), I began to understand how the lyrics truly supported the lesson in a simple, natural way.  I began to see the lyrics with fresh eyes.  The turning point came when I remembered this: Many weeks before I had chosen the song to act as a profoundly joyful antidote to the heavy view that says we are all really just a bunch of sinners with no hope of redemption.  And this song was a perfect foil to that idea!

Here’s why:  “Soul’s Perfection” is a wonderful “List Song.”  Simply stated, it lists what anyone can do anywhere, any time, any place – in small, everyday ways — to prove one’s worthiness of God’s redeeming, ever-present love.   (See the list below in the song’s lyrics.)

This new or renewed understanding filled me with peace.  The fears and doubts melted away.  I reaffirmed my commitment.  I just trusted that the message of the lyrics would do what it needed to do.  I stopped struggling and asking, and went back to working on the song.

Sunday rolled around and the solo went off beautifully.

The story continues…

After the services, I ran into my friend Karen, an usher.  Seeing her reminded me that she had actually been an important part of my rehearsal preparation.  In the middle of the week, as I pondered the lyric, “a gentle smile,” I thought specifically of Karen and her quiet smile!  I shared that with her on the spot.

Well, then…

Karen then told me about her experience of the solo:  During the morning service, a man came out into the foyer coughing just as the service started.  He wanted to sit outside in the foyer so as not to disturb.  When he heard “Amazing Grace” being announced as the second hymn, he told Karen, who was the usher, “I want to go back in just to hear that hymn!”

Karen said to him, “You go back in there, but stay for the solo, too.  You won’t still be coughing if you listen to the solo.”  The man went back in, quit his coughing and stayed for the whole service.  He came back and told Karen later that he was healed.

Most of the time, I don’t hear about experiences like this.  I just trust that if I do my job,  — if we all do our appointed jobs, that keeps the way clear, and God does all the big stuff – touching hearts, inspiring seekers, bringing healing and comfort to receptive thinkers.

And that was the lesson for me:  this experience was about trusting the message and being receptive.  All three of us – Karen the usher, the man who was healed and I – all listened to divine direction, and trusted divine direction.  We were all there participating in the same service, fulfilling different offices, but all being receptive.

Amazing how that works.

To find and explore the sheet music for “Soul’s Perfection”, song further, click here.  Discover more about Watchfire Music composer Carolyn Kardinal.

Here are the lyrics:

Music and Lyrics by Carolyn Kardinal

In Him we live and move and have our being.

A gentle smile; beauty perceived; a tender word; a truth believed;
A kindness shown in unselfish deed;
Gratitude; blessings revealed; a life reclaimed; a problem healed;
A gift of heart meeting a need.

This is Soulʼs perfection unfolding its reflection as idea pure and undefiled.
This is our true being, Loveʼs expression weʼre seeing: Man ordained as Godʼs own child.

Childlike trust; a humble prayer; a debt forgivʼn; tender care; A loving home; helping hands. Enduring hope; a faith-filled day; a heart that sings, “Iʼve found the way!” Receptive thought that understands.

This is Soulʼs perfection unfolding its reflection as idea pure and undefiled. This is our true being, Loveʼs expression weʼre seeing: Man ordained as Godʼs own  child.

In Him we live and move and have our being.

Copyright 2007 C. Kardinal


Entry filed under: Church Music, Have I Got A Song For You!, Inspirational Music, Inspirational Sheet Music, Inspiratus, Performance, Practice & Performance: Working It Out. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Have I Got A Song For You! – Part 2 Poetry and Art Smash Against Life on the 38th Floor

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. carolyn Kardinal  |  August 1, 2009 at 10:29 am


    You brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for your wonderful message. I guess that’s the way things are supposed to work: If I’m receptive to God, then the words will be something He can use on down the line. Sometimes I think, “I wish I could hear my songs sung” or “I wish I were still soloing” , etc. That’s just false ego. I am beginning to see that hearing the solo or singing it isn’t the point, it’s the Cause/Effect relationship of Divine Mind and its idea which serves God’s purpose. So, keep on singing, my friend, and let the message do the work. Much love, C

  • 2. juliawade  |  August 5, 2009 at 10:09 am

    HI Carolyn,

    I keep coming back to this idea of receptivity, and you further illuminated how it works. You spoke of your own receptivity to God, and how in this listening state, all the elements of your songs — healing lyrics, heart-touching melodies, expressive harmonies and rhythms — they all come to you to share and to be heard “down the line.”

    And down the line, over and over, every time your songs are sung, there is that incredible opportunity for one or many to receive the healing inspiration that your listening thought penned to paper.

    Thank you for communicating and sharing your inspiring songs with the world! Please keep on writing!

    With love,

  • 3. Nancy Bowman  |  August 15, 2009 at 1:08 am

    I just have to add that I am a huge fan of Carolyn’s music.. As soloist in my church, I have sung many of her compositions. The music is so lovely and her lyrics touch the heart. There is always wonderful response when her solos are sung. I also might add that her music is within reach of those of us who are not what you would call professional musicians–but we do sing from the heart. So, thank you Carolyn–and thank you, Julia for your wonderful contribution both in Boston and at Watchfire. Greetings from Grants Pass, Oregon

  • 4. Steep  |  August 15, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Thank you again for sharing through the twitter blogs and other media. They are a key part of the unfoldment going on with me. The last line in your rendition of “Hymns” still brings it straight home — “and let the essence of my life be a song that others will want to sing.”

    Tears and laughter — Steep

    • 5. juliawade  |  August 22, 2009 at 10:46 am

      Steep, thank you for your comments! It’s so great to have this developing community (and to watch it grow) where we can all share ideas and explore the possibilities. That line in “Hymns” resonates deeply with me too. I have to say that that is one of the great songs in my life. Blessings and Light! J

  • 6. joanspear  |  August 15, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Hello Dear Julia! I am glad that you are adding your voice to the blog world. Big Hugs, Joanie

    • 7. juliawade  |  August 21, 2009 at 11:50 pm

      Hi Joanie! Thanks for taking a spin through the blog. Hope to see you soon — maybe back in the studio! Love, Julia

  • […] JW: Not only does that sound like a song you would write, but I realize that you already have written it!!  It’s called “Soul’s Perfection.” This is a beautiful “list” song that really captures your sense of what inspires you. (Please see my blog post on Soul’s Perfection.) […]


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