So why does this one start out so dark? … And maybe a little bit depressing?
There is no shortage of arrangements for this hymn. It’s one of the more popular primary hymns. Since the song focuses on nature, most arrangements that I’ve heard are of course very beautiful and happy and “life is wonderful being out here in the wilderness, being one with God and his creations.” You get the picture.
I had spent a while thinking about which direction I wanted to take this one. After not really getting anywhere, I had almost settled on doing my own nature-centric take on it.
But then I ate dinner.
More specifically, I ate dinner with some good friends and good conversation.
At one point in the conversation a friend started talking about how sometimes it’s hard to know if God actually loves you or not because of how difficult life can be. Yes, we have trials in order to learn and grow, but at what point does it seem like it’s too much? At what point does it feel more like discipline rather than love? How are we sometimes not supposed to feel angry at God? At those times, how can we know that God actually loves us?
It was at that moment that it hit me that I needed to approach this song not from a happy perspective, but from a NOT happy perspective.
We all can feel depressed, angry, sad, lonely … You name it.
I think the true beauty in this song is that everything around us and everything we are shows us that He loves us. And what better way to help us snap out of a funk than to hear the song of bird or to look at the blue, blue sky?
So the arrangement starts from that dark place and slowly works its way out of it. The interlude falls back into that dark place and then builds steam to come running out of it as if to break free of it, knowing that Heavenly Father does love you.
My wife called it the Forest Gump moment when he realizes how fast he could run. “From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running!”
The first three notes in the intro are a call to the last three notes in the outro of the arrangement. It’s the “Yes, I know” in “Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.” So the first three repeating notes are dark, because you don’t know if He loves you or not. While the last three are more positive and have more conviction that you DO know He loves you.
Because no matter how hard life is, He does.
Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heav’nly Father created for me.
He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him rev’rently
For all his creations, of which I’m a part.
Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.
Glenn HilemanPosted at 06:18h, 01 February
Your arrangements have rekindled a long lost passion for the guitar. Thanks for sharing. Your music is truly inspiring and I can feel closer to my Heavenly Father while listening.
Ben HowingtonPosted at 12:31h, 01 February
Thanks, Glenn. I’m honored.
Hunter BigelowPosted at 12:02h, 02 March
Ben, you are amazing. I love listening to and playing your arrangements. Thank you so much for sharing your talent. I hope to do something like this after my mission. I have a request though, you should see about putting your arrangements on iTunes, I want to be able to listen to them while I’m on my mission.
Nancy LitwackPosted at 14:22h, 02 March
Ben, I look forward each month for your song pick. I love the way you tackle each song. I like the slow way you start and then really get into the song. I send your song each month to my grandson so he will also be inspired to serve the Lord the best he can. God Bless you and your talents that you so willingly share with us all. Be well.
JanePosted at 14:57h, 29 April
Just beautiful arrangements. Thank you for updating some of these beloved hymns! Can’t wait to teach them to some of our youth and share your site.