Thursday, May 7, 2009

There is so much beauty in the world that sometimes I feel almost overwhelmed by it all. I don't walk around in a constant state of bliss or anything like that, but several times each day I will see or hear something that makes me stop and pay attention. I'm lucky to live out in the country where I do with a forest behind me, a mountain stream in front and meadows on either side. It give me a chance to see how nature can change with the light each day, the glowing mornings, softening fog or sparkling frost, the long shadows in the late afternoon when the setting sun gives everything that warm red tint.

The world can often seem like an ugly place, but beauty is still all around us, just waiting to be noticed. In museums I have seen paintings and other works of art that caused me to stop and stare for several minutes in silence. Most frequently, it’s music will that make me put down what I am doing and close my eyes for a bit.

If I had to pick one favorite song (and thank goodness I don’t) I think it would probably be Suo Gan, the Welsh lullaby. I have three versions and they are all great. The first one I ever heard is by James Rainbird who sang it in the movie Empire of the Sun. His voice is so unique and I still don't understand why he wasn't more well-known.

There used to be several videos on Youtube of the opening sequence when Christian Bale is in the church with the Ambrosian Junior Choir (I think they were just formed for the movie) and he does a great job of lip-syncing to Rainbird’s voice. I think those are all gone now but I did find a clip from the second occurrence of the song later in the film. I’ve linked it here.
The first scene is better so rent the movie. It’s a good film anyway.

Another version is by the Vienna Boy's Choir from their 2003 Christmas album, titled (what else?) The Christmas Album. They sing the English lyrics and when the violins lead to the big crescendo the voices, sounding like violins, also climb with them to the heights. I always get goose bumps at that part because it’s very powerful.

The other version is by Anthony Way and it‘s good in another way. He sings the Welsh lyrics and sings more stanzas than the others do and although Anthony's voice wasn't really on the same par with WSK or Rainbird he still sounds sweetly appealing. This one is softer but the music is really good and I love the big drum that slowly booms near the end.

It’s wonderful that a song can be sung in such very different, beautiful and interesting ways.


  1. You speak of beauty all around us, in the great outdoors and museums. I have enjoyed those also, but I have enjoyed another beauty to a much greater degree. I have been involved in Boy Scouts for 40+ years as an adult leader. The beauty that I most enjoy is the smile on a boys face when he accomplishes something he thought he could not do. The wonder in a boys eyes when you have taken him somewhere he has never been. But most of all the feelings stired within, when a boy says thank you, now that is beautiful.

  2. You're absolutely right, children are one of life's greatest joys. I've not been able to get involved with the scouts but I've been a Big Brother and that was wonderful, too.
    Thanks for the comment.