Seven Divided by Three

A composer-friend wrote a piece for me a few weeks ago.  A lovely choral work that sets the Easter text by Charles Wesley, Love’s redeeming work is done.  My friend, Rob Lehman, thought the text would bring some comfort during a difficult time in my life, and having friendship take the form of a new creation was deeply moving.  An early Easter present:

Love’s redeeming work is done, fought the fight, the battle won, Death in vain forbids him rise; Christ has opened paradise.

Lives again our glorious King; where, O death, is now thy sting? Once he died our souls to save, where thy victory, O grave?

Soar we now where Christ has led, following our exalted Head; made like him, like him we rise, ours the cross, the grave, the skies.

I had told Rob a few years ago that I loved pieces in 7/8 time, and he promptly wrote a sparkling setting of the wonderful 19th century American text, How can I keep from singing, for me…in 7/8 time of course.  When I called to thank him for this new work a few weeks ago, I reflected on why 7/8 is so appealing to me, wondering aloud if it is because performing a piece in 7/8 time requires a musician to divide seven into three parts – albeit three unequal parts.  2+2+3 or 3+2+2 or even 2+3+2.   We know the importance of three in our thinking.   Spiritually it’s the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Personally it might be the trinity of friends, family and work that makes claims on our time and affection.  The power of three makes itself known in all kinds of ways in our lives. The three little pigs…Goldilocks and the three bears… three people walked into a bar…bad things happen in threes.

But 7/8 time is the reminder that the three parts of something are never equally present at any given time.  Spiritually, there are times when we walk more closely with the Son, depend more on the Father, or are more aware of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Certainly, friends and family and work play unequal roles at various points in our life. Which isn’t to say we don’t need a balance of these three parts, just that they can’t be equally important at any given moment.

I wrote about 7/8 years ago, describing the dance I felt inherent in that time signature. Not a waltz, or any other kind of dance you would see in the ballroom, but a dance where varying parts are made into a whole. A woman responded, then, writing that she had multiple sclerosis and nothing made her happier than being held by her husband as they danced together in graceful awkwardness. That’s why I love 7/8 time.

 *  *  *  *  *

Where I’ll be:

Sunday, March 13

first…Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, substitute organist for their 10:30 am service and then…Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church’s annual Bach Marathon which runs from 2:00-7:00.  I’ll be playing two of my favorite preludes and fugues during the 4:30-5:00 time slot.

This blog represents an attempt to continue putting thoughts together on various things that seem to connect – in my mind anyway!  More often than not new ideas first involve reaching back to what was and I can only hope that the prehistoric San cave painting at the top of this page inspires all kinds of new connections between old and new.

Feel free to pass this message along to anyone who might be interested, and if a community conversation comes out of it, all the better.  We have so much to share and so much to be grateful for.




3 thoughts on “Seven Divided by Three

  1. Beautiful!! More “threes”: vestry, clergy, parish.
    You got me going!! Hugs… this is AWESOME, as always! How does one get invited to this blog? I want to share it with more people, how do I do that?


  2. Sonya — Your writing is music. You have inside of you a tremendous capacity to observe and to write what you think and observe. Really really special.


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