Good or Bad, Stories Impact Us
~ Janet Lund
From the beginning of time, we have been creatures of stories. Our means of keeping track and passing down through generations who we are and whose we are has been through the telling of tales. It has been our way of keeping track of significant moments in history, important people in our family tree and life-changing experiences, so they are not forgotten.
I believe the reason we are so drawn to tales is because we were made that way. Brené Brown mentions a neurologist Robert Burton, in her book Rising Strong, who explains that
our brains reward us with dopamine when we recognize and complete patterns. Stories are patterns. The brain recognizes the familiar beginning-middle-end structure of a story and rewards us for clearing up the ambiguity.
That is why we are so drawn to a story series. It continues to give us the reward of clarity and insight to the tale of the characters we have grown to know and care for. Whether it is J.K. Rowling writing a story about beasts within the magical world of Harry Potter, or the 7th movie of Star Wars we are long to know and understand more. (My favorite of the series by the way.)
Story + Tune= Song
I like to think of a song as a tale partnered with a tune. There is something about stories put to music that can takes the tale and allows it to sink even deeper into your soul. Hence, movie soundtracks. Songs enhance the emotions of the moment and can anchor a scene into your heart. It sneaks in. You often don’t even know why you are deeply moved sometimes, it just happens.
Since tales and tunes together can have such a powerful impact, I decided one day, years ago, during the Christmas season I wanted to write a Christmas song. I tried a couple of runs at it but nothing. It is often when I least expect it that words start to come. It ended up that words wouldn’t come to me until the next Christmas season. It was right before I fell asleep when I was hit by this short little phrase: Alleluia, together we sing! Alleluia, sing praise to the King! I remember quietly saying, “Now, Lord? I am just about asleep.” But I knew from past experience that if I didn’t write it down, I would lose it. So I got up, wrote it down and waited to see if there was anything more. Nope. Nada. So, I went back to bed.
An Inconvenient Muse
The next morning while making Joel’s lunch I had an unforgettable experience. It was like all the Christmas songs I had sung throughout my life started weaving themselves together into this very familiar Christmas tale. A combination of recognizable, short phrases tied themselves together. It made putting a lunch together a rather comical sight I am sure. A phrase would pop into my head, so I would go quick write it down, wash my hands, and get back to making the sandwich. Then another phrase would come, and I would grab the pen write down a few more words and then wash my hands again and get back to the lunch. It was crazy making doing this over and over again and yet exhilarating at the same time. Well, finally a huge flood of words came, and I just had to sit down and write them out. Yes, eventually the lunch was completed. After Joel left and while my 4-year-old entertained herself, I finished putting the words together. Within 30 minutes I had three verses written to go with the short chorus I wrote the night before. Of all the songs I have written the experience of actually writing this song is my most cherished. I felt like I was on holy ground mixed with a taste of holy humor. It was clear to me that this song was not a song I wrote but was written through me. All my other attempts at a Christmas song were purely mine. When I invited God into the process of telling His own tale, that was when the words came.
So I share with you now the most important story I could ever tell. If you would like to hear this song, please go to my Janet Lund Music Facebook page on Christmas Eve. Leave me a comment and/or share a holy moment you have experienced during Christmas time or any other time of year. I would love to hear your stories!
Praise to the King
On one special evening, on one Holy Night
a great host of Angels gathered and took flight.
In search of some shepherds to share the good news
The Christ child of heaven was born just for you.
Alleluia, together we sing, (clap, clap)
Sing praise to the King (clap, clap)
Alleluia, together we sing, (clap, clap)
Sing Praise to the King!
Three wise men, they traveled a journey so far.
In search of a baby, King with his own star.
To praise and to worship, bow down on their knees
“These gifts we do offer, accept them O, please.”
Dear Mary and Joseph they humbly received
These gifts from the visitors who heard and believed
That Jesus God’s own son, from Heaven came down
Was born in a stable, King without a crown.
Words & Music by Janet Lund 2001
Merry Christmas to you all!