I woke up this Sunday morning with words of Mendelssohn’s “Hymn of Praise” in my head, words I would be singing tonight as part of the Jubilate Concert – 90 minutes of great choral music.
The words: “I waited for the Lord, He inclined unto me. He heard my prayer, He heard my prayer…” I had been rehearsing this music for three to five hours a month for six months – plus four hours the previous day and many hours on my own. The words were firmly into my memory and my heart.
After church, I was stopped by a member of the choir who said there was person who was in need of prayer. I turned to see a friend, his wife and three others huddled together, all in tears. As I walked toward them I was told that my friend’s wife had learned on Friday that she had Huntington’s disease – a non-curable nerve degenerative disease. We prayed together …. Heavy. “I waited for the Lord, He inclined unto me. He heard my prayer.” After the concert I saw the lady, opened my arms, and as she came for her hug smiled and said “I’m ok now.”
A Deerfooter was with his wife in the delivery room as they waited for the birth of their baby – a baby they knew would be still born. The Holy Spirit brought to the Deerfooter’s mind: “Jesus is with me wherever I go; Jesus is with me I know. Over the mountains, the land and the sea, Jesus I know is with me. As oft through the valley of sorrow I go, His hand is upon me I know, I know. Jesus is with me wherever I go, Jesus is with me, I know.” As a camper and staff member, this Deerfooter had sung this chorus after every candle light service, at every Circle of Friendship for probably 12 summers.
At the end of every Lone Eagle ceremony everyone stands to sing: “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross. Lift high His royal banner, It must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory, His army does he lead, Till every foe is vanquished, And Christ is Lord indeed.”
One of the joys of living in the Director’s cabin, The Lookout, was that a trail to the point was about 3’ from the back of the cabin and 5’ from the front porch. At the beginning of the sessions we would hear the campers talking about life back home, often trying to impress each other…movies…cars…soccer games. After a few days we would begin to hear campers going by singing choruses they had been singing after breakfast and at campfires.
In the staff manual is a list of 29 hymns from which are chosen 5 for the Sunday morning worship service. These, and many others, are sung at the Breaking of Bread Service. Over time these hymns become integral to the lives of campers and staff.
When I hike alone it is a privilege to sing to the Lord “Holy, Holy, Holy” and other great hymns of the faith. On the night before my Lone Eagle ceremony I stood on Lone Eagle Rock, high above camp, and sang joyfully to the Lord! The next morning, I stood to sing again and I vividly remember that nothing would come out right…the words, the notes…I quit. I climbed down from the rock to the 2 Lone Eagles waiting for me. As we hiked silently down the Dugs, my Lone Eagle name came to mind. “Gentle Rock” This is what my parents had been to me. At the lower lean-to about 35 Lone Eagles were waiting for us. After Breaking Bread together, I saw a canoe coming quickly across the lake – not a good sign. When the canoe was about 10’ from shore I realized the bow paddler was my wife, Sally Jo. She came to tell me that during the night my father had died. He was with the Lord.
In 1996 Deerfoot recorded its first CD, 26 choruses, 12 hymns. The singing is alive, vital…intense. The CD was mailed to that year’s campers and staff, and to all those who had made contributions to DL in the previous year. Frequently first year campers arrived having learned the songs from their brother’s CD. Many DL families sing the songs together.
“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God… Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. Ps 100/150