Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Band Plays On

I'm so thankful for this season of life that God has given me the sweet opportunity to slow down to hang with my youngest grandchildren. They seem to be in their prime season of life -- with their many activities, competitions, sporting events and just plain living their teenage lives that are filled with vigor and vitality. What I remember about my grandparents is "they were so old and sat in their rockers and listened to the radio....a lot"! That is not me. Not by any stretch of the imagination. My band wagon hitches up to whatever they're doing and I go along for the ride!

Speaking of bands and bandwagons, I'm with the Wallace's as Payton and Alexia compete in their regional speech and debate competitions. While I enjoy slipping into the rooms to hear and see them compete, I also enjoy judging other students in their various speech and debate categories. I am mesmerized by their talents and abilities. This is Regionals, so the best of the best are weeded out for Nationals.

I was so impressed by a Biographical Narrative speech I judged yesterday, that I knew it would be my inspiration for today's blog. This narrative was about Wallace Hartley. Does that name ring a bell for you? It didn't for me. I found out Hartley was a devoted Christian musician, having been raised in the Methodist Church, and his greatest claim-to-fame was that he was the Band leader for the Titanic. One of the survivors of the fateful loss of the Titanic, Charlotte Collyer, said of the band: “They kept it up to the very end. Only the engulfing ocean had power to drown them into silence. The band was playing ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee.’ I could hear it distinctly. The end was very close.” Eight musicians, led by Hartley heard one thing, "Play on." Those eight band members behaved with remarkable calm and courage and today they are remembered as heroes who could have joined other passengers on life boats because they were also considered civilians -- not Titanic employees, but they chose to be instruments of peace for those who were calmly led to the life boats or to the watery grave.

Extraordinary act of courage in the face of death. What if we faced a situation like that? We know that our choices reveal our deepest values and beliefs, so would we do absolutely anything to get a place in a lifeboat or would we gladly put someone else first? Would we stick to our spouse or could we live with the possibility of being parted? Would we carry on playing music, or pack up our instrument and leap overboard? Those musicians faced that ultimate challenge. Many survivors gave their final account of the last fleeting moments in their memories. Their words included "And the band played on." The Associated Press recounted "As the screams in the waters multiplied, another sound was heard, strong and clear at first, then fainter in the distance. It was the melody of the hymn "Near, My God, to Thee' being played by that fearless band. Some of those on the water started to sing the words, but grew silent as they realized that for the men who played, the music was a sacrament soon to be consummated by death. Another passenger remembered the last moments of the great ship's doom, when all was plainly lost, when braver and hardier men might almost have been excused for doing practically anything to save themselves, they stood responsive to their conductor's baton and played a recessional tune. In one edition the front page was given over entirely to the words and music of the hymn.

No words could have been more meaningful as the more they played, the nearer to God those band members came. And, they became heroes by putting others before themselves.

There was another who could have magnificently called ten thousand angels to rescue Him from the cross, but the music played on. The Creator of music continued to play as He went to the cross to bring redemption for you and me.

Oftentimes we don't have an easy way out of circumstances that we are in. We don't even see a lifeboat, helicopter or any other vessel to take us to safety. We have, however, an Orchestra Conductor that continues to play the background music for our lives. As long as that music continues to play, we have hope for today and tomorrow. As long as we, too, hear those words, "Nearer my God to Thee" and live those words....we'll find ourselves close to the Source of Music. In the meantime, "Let the band play on!"