The violinist danced onto the stage, tossing her long, straight blond hair from side to side as she maintained a continuous, lilting melody on the strings of her instrument–a seemingly impossible combination of music and movement.
Backing her were drums, guitars, a piano, and bagpipe. The sounds of Ireland were pure and strong.
Don and I had traveled to Fresno, three hours from home, to hear Celtic Woman, a group I’ve long wanted to see in person. Here we were in the William Saroyan Theater, Row H, Seats 37-38, anticipating the joy of the evening’s music.
Then, through the darkness and mist at the back of the stage, entered three lovely women clad in elegant, jeweled gowns. As they sang, their harmonies danced around and over each other, making it difficult to know who was singing which part at any one time. The blend and cross-over of their voices, along with the music of the instruments, was sublime. The melodies, costumes, and dance drew me into a mythical world of fairies and woodland nymphs and minor tunes and joy and yearning and passion.
We heard the sounds of pain and hunger suffered throughout Irish history and famines. And out of that pain has come incredible creativity which emanates from our Master Creator, the God of the universe, the One who promised to
- “provide for those who grieve in Zion—
- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
- the oil of joy instead of mourning,
- and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3a, NIV)
All good things come from God. The Master Creator, He weaves our lives in and out of situations where we don’t always know whether we’re carrying the melody or a harmony–or if we’re in tune at all. He brings beauty from ashes, joy rather than mourning.
Chills filled me as I heard a bagpipe coming from our left. The air moved through the pipes as he soloed, walking toward the stage. Just as he climbed the stairs, the other instruments joined his, filling the auditorium with quiet strength. Then the women entered, singing these meaningful words:
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
Voices and instruments crescendoed, reaching a climax of praise to God. And one day every created thing will give Him praise and honor as we fall on our knees before His majesty, glory, and grace.