By Jane M. Gardner By Jane M. Gardner
The creative process is fascinating. A melody from a Singapore composer is sent to an author in New Zealand, and “As the Wind Song through the Trees” (Community of Christ Sings 42) is the result.
Swee Hong Lim, a church academic and musician originally from Singapore, asked Shirley Erena Murray of New Zealand to listen to his music and see where it led her.
Murray, the most represented author in Community of Christ Sings, was up to the challenge. Her reaction to Lim’s music was that “its lyricism gave a feeling of the movement of the Spirit, both gentle and powerful.” Murray felt the Spirit connection so strongly that she wrote back to Lim, asking him to name his tune, “WAIRUA TAPU,” a New Zealand Māori phrase for Holy Spirit.
As an evangelist, I often am asked about the Holy Spirit. In our congregation, a man was called to the office of priest. When the pastor shared his testimony of the confirmation of the Holy Spirit as to the rightness and timeliness of his call, it raised questions for him. He asked me later, “What is the Holy Spirit? How will I know it?”
This text would have helped in his search. It is full of rich descriptions for recognizing the Holy Spirit, many of which are derived from scripture. Some scripture connections:
“as the stirring of the breeze” Genesis 1:1–2 (creation), Acts 2:1–2 (Pentecost)
“as the heart made strangely warm” Luke 24:28–32 (road to Emmaus)
“as the voice within the storm” 1 Kings 19:11–14 (Elijah in cave at Horeb)
“as the dancing tongues of fire” Acts 2:3–4 (Pentecost)
“as the rainbow after rain” Genesis 9:12–16 (sign of God’s covenant)
“as the hope that’s born again” John 3:1–21 (Nicodemus and Jesus)
“bringing love to the world” John 3:16–17(For God so loved the world)
“as the wine at the feast” John 2:1–11 (Jesus turns water to wine)
Murray also goes beyond the Bible and incorporates images of the Spirit moving in creation like, “as the wind song through the trees,” “as a kite on a string,” “as the green in the spring,” and “as the rising of the yeast.” These similes tucked throughout the song celebrate the Spirit, the same Spirit that came with rushing wind and tongues of fire to the first-century disciples at the Pentecost experience (Acts 2:1–21).
'As the Wind Song through the Trees' blesses us with emotion and an openness to the unending variety of ways the Spirit is present with us.
The lilting tune and rich text lend themselves to contemplative moments in a Pentecost worship experience. On the other end of the spectrum, here’s a musical performance suggestion that helps illustrate the cacophony of the Pentecost experience. Sing the song as a two-part a cappella round, with the second group entering as the first group reaches the third beat of the second full measure. Or try a three-part round, with the second group entering on the third beat of the first full measure and the third group entering on the third beat of the second full measure. Have fun creating a Pentecost environment!
Another creative possibility is to work with your worshipers (all ages) to come up with additional descriptive phrases for the Holy Spirit. Then sing them together to Swee Hong Lim’s music. There are no limits when describing the Holy Spirit!
“As the Wind Song through the Trees” blesses us with emotion and an openness to the unending variety of ways the Spirit is present with us. This song is a wonderful guide for identifying concrete, yet mystical possibilities for experiences with the Holy Spirit as Murray attested to at the end of each stanza: “so it is with the Spirit of God.”