Monday, August 13, 2012

Benjamin's Song - Part 1

Check out the song itself here!

This is the story of how I REALLY started arranging music. 

First, let me introduce you to the FABULOUS Rex and Linda Brown. 

When we moved into the Hidden Lake Ward in 2002, I became acquainted with Rex and Linda's daughter, Rebecca, who was still in high school at the time.  I didn't really get to know her until just recently when Linda asked if I would help her and her now grown-up daughter arrange an original song.  In order to properly tell this amazing story, I have invited Rebecca Brown Wright to tell the beginning.  My part of the story doesn't start until halfway through... heeeeere's REBECCA!!!....

"Benjamin Brown, my great-great-great grandfather, is a bit of a legend in our family history.  My dad would occasionally read to us from his copy of Benjamin's account of his life.  Benjamin experienced all sorts of miracles and suffered all kinds of physical, emotional, and spiritual hardships. 

The one experience that seemed to impress my brothers and me the most was when Benjamin was attacked by a mob for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  A mob of men were angry with him for preaching in their town, and they followed him with the intent to kill.  They beat him, and one man even broke his ribs by jumping on his chest with his knees.  I am certain he would have died, as that seemed to be the mob's intention, had he not thought smart.  After struggling to get away, he thought to act as if he were dead.  He lay as still as possible, and in the darkness of the night, the men believed him to be dead.  Satisfied, they left him alone.  Knowing this story of such bravery for sharing truth, even when an actual life is in danger, I have always admired Benjamin. 

One day, my mom and I visited the LDS Church History Library in downtown Salt Lake City.  On a whim, I typed Benjamin's name into the database.  Many results came up.  Some -- like the journal my dad had a copy of -- I expected.  But there was one entry that intrigued me.  It was titled "Song."

I asked if I could see the song, and after storing all my belongings in a locker and signing my name and information, I was able to sit down and hold a poem written in Benjamin's own hand.  I wasn't sure why it was categorized as a song because there was no music anywhere to be seen -- just a poem written to his relatives.  The document was too fragile to be photocopied, so I sat down and began to copy the words onto a piece of paper.

Several verses into the song, my hand writing at a somewhat steady tempo, I started to hear a melody.  "That's interesting," I thought, and continued copying.  The melody became louder and louder until I realized, "Hey!  I should write this down!"  I have never composed music, and I do not sing, but from my years of piano teaching, I had developed an ear for the intervals of (or distance between) notes.  I didn't know on what note the melody should begin, but I knew the intervals that needed to be between each note.

I came home, found the correct starting note on the piano, and wrote the melody.

And then I was done.  I didn't know what else to do with it.  I couldn't make it pretty or presentable.  My mom wanted the song to be performed at a church meeting in California, so she asked me to do what I could with the arrangement, and she would find somebody to play it.  I knew my work on the song was done, however.  I threw out a really awful accompaniment, and gave it to my mom, knowing with a sure knowledge that whoever she found to play the song was going to be inspired to arrange it to the beauty it needed to be arranged.

When she told me she had found Elizabeth to play the song, I told her to give Elizabeth free license with the piece.  Her only instruction was to leave the melody as is, since I believe it was a direct inspiration.  Elizabeth told my mom she wouldn't dare touch any of it, but I wanted her to arrange the piece.  She seemed to have little confidence in her abilities, but without even knowing her all that well, I had complete trust that she was the right person for the job.  I was stunned -- blown away -- by the arrangement Elizabeth was able to put together.  And as time went on and she polished the arrangement up, it became more and more beautiful. 

Any time people have heard it, they have been moved.  The piece is beautiful, the words are powerful, and for some reason it was meant to come together at this time and place."

1 comment:

  1. So wonderful to be involved in a miracle. I look forward to the rest of the story. :)