Relief Society Christmas Dinner 2011. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to present the music portion of the evening while the ladies are finishing their dinners. Like a dinner show sort of. And this year, the husbands were invited to the Christmas dinner...it seemed weird to me when it was announced but it turned out to be a lovely evening. Anyway, being the procrastinator that I am, I didn't even think about the show until the week of the dinner....yeah...good going. Hey...cut me a break...remember I had just been called into the YW presidency!
Cheryl Polson to the rescue...you remember she's our new YW President and also new-found bestie, right? She's got all the creativity, so I asked her for ideas. We landed upon a reader's theater called "The Women Who Knew Christ." Narrations are given by Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, the mother of Joseph the carpenter, the mother of Mary, the innkeeper (Cheryl tweaked it...the original used to be the innkeeper's wife), a shepherd (again, Cheryl tweaked it), Mary (the mother of the Savior), and lastly, a present day young woman. We decided each person who narrated would then sing a solo when they were done.
We had a song lined up for everyone EXCEPT for the mother of Mary. It was Wednesday...dinner is on Saturday night. Still no song for Mary's mom. Cheryl Polson and I both attended a small luncheon at our good friend Rachel Garner's house (ok fine, I have a lot of besties, alright? Rachel is my unofficial photographer and Recital Chairs chairperson). Those present helped us brainstorm a song for Mary's mom. Nope. Nothin'....until Cheryl blurts out:
Cheryl: "Hey Elizabeth...why don't we write our OWN song."
Me: "Like an original song?"
Cheryl: "Yeah. Why not?"
Me: (thinking she was kinda kidding and it would never actually happen) "Fine. I'm in if you're in."
Me: "You write the lyrics and I'll write the music."
Cheryl: "I'll have it to you by this afternoon."
Cheryl was good on her word. She got me the lyrics less than 2 hours later, people!! And these weren't crappy lyrics. These were can't-get-through-em-without-crying lyrics. What now?!?! I have like 24, 48 hours TOPS to write this song, never mind REHEARSING the dang thing! Thankfully, it was Cheryl all along who was planning on portraying Mary's mother, and her actual daughter Caitlyn (my mini-bestie and image consultant) who was planning on portraying Mary. Cool, huh?
Wednesday night, I fell asleep still praying in my bed. I had never before written an original song. Arranging music was still so new to me...Composing music...fuhgeddaboutit! I woke up Thursday morning still praying. I set myself up at the piano...everything I needed right there. I had my two little boys watching a movie. I knelt down to pray...please, please, please help me come up with an awesome melody that doesn't stink. I just need a melody worthy of these amazing lyrics. I opened my eyes and looked at the computer screen right in front of me...
YOU'VE GOT MAIL!! No seriously...before I started praying, I had no new emails. When I opened my eyes I had a new email...from Cheryl. She had just, in the last few minutes, come up with a melody to the beginning of the song!!! Dude. God sometimes answers via email! It was the first few lines of melody, which was enough to get me going...kinda like your first time riding a bike without training wheels...I'll never forget my Dad pushing me off and running along-side of me until I had the hang of it...but I digress...that's all it took!
That's about all I got on Thursday. What was supposed to be a 2-hour composing session ended up being one interruption after another. I swear, forces of evil were combining against me, trying to prevent this song from happening. I almost called Cheryl Thursday night to tell her it just wasn't gonna happen. Maybe for next Christmas. Too much pressure. But I didn't call her. I decided to sleep on it. Maybe Friday would be a new day.
It was. Friday morning, I woke up still praying. My skeleton of a song I had completed on Thursday needed an amazing accompaniment. But what?? I drove the kids to school in the morning and as I was driving back home, I had ANOTHER LIGHTNING BOLT MOMENT!! The first words to the song are, "When I was younger I had a dream; a dream of a daughter divine." HELLO!!!...when I was younger I LOVED music boxes. This accompaniment needed to sound like a music box! I RACED home and got busy writing a music box-ish accompaniment. When Cheryl heard the first draft, her comment was that it sounded like a hauntingly beautiful music box...BINGO!!
I finished up the arrangement Friday night...actually, I had everything except the very last few bars. I could feel what it needed to be but I couldn't hear it yet. I emailed what I had to Cheryl and Caitlyn so they could have as much time as possible to rehearse with it...24 hours...and I went to bed. As I was falling asleep, I was running though it in my head and...say it with me, people...ANOTHER LIGHTNING BOLT MOMENT...my poor husband who was almost asleep..."I'VE GOT IT!"
And so, Saturday morning, the finished product was sent over to the Polsons and we performed it Saturday night. I'm just glad the piano was hiding my face cause I wasn't just crying at the piano...I was sobbing. I usually get a couple months of practice with my singers to become immune to the emotions of the song, but this one was still so raw.
I think Cheryl would agree with me that this was an incredibly amazing experience. Heavenly Father really does hear and answer our prayers. What happened here was truly miraculous. And I feel that it was a preparatory experience in some way. We all know that everything happens for a reason and everything happens in His own way and in His own time, right? But sometimes we catch a glimpse of why things happen the way they do. And it's amazing. I'm so grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing my life with the gift of music. And I'm grateful to amazing friends and family who encourage me to continue developing that gift....
Like my bestie and mini-bestie and co-image consultants; the lovely Polson ladies...
P.S. Cheryl and I have always said that this song could be tweaked slightly to apply to all mothers and daughters, not just specifically Mary and her mother. Really, the lyrics only specifically refer to Mary briefly in the second verse. Other than that, it's universal. Our original plan was to tweak the lyrics and submit it to the 2012 LDS Church Song Contest. It never happened cause neither of us could come up with something awesome (Deadline was March 31, 2012). Anything we tried fell a little flat.
I think we should have a contest...first person to come up with alternate lyrics wins a big fat prize!! (And their name on the sheet music with us!) Seriously, people...get your inner poet going. Check out the "Sheet Music" link and click on Daughter Divine to download it. Submit your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org