This week, at the request of a resident, I learned an old hymn in public domain “Let the Lower Lights Keep Burning”. The imagery of the hymn is very foreign to the plains of Kansas yet is well depicted in the lyrics. The person making the request described the old hymnal from her youth in great detail.
Often I ask the seniors in my assisted living groups for song suggestions to use in upcoming sessions. The challenge of finding and of learning these songs has led me to many treasures over the years. It also provides insights as to what is important to the individual residents. It provides me insights of how to help connect our music experiences with the upcoming themes – often provided by a corporation.
But there is often a bigger treasure to these requests – listening to the stories that go with the songs:
- “I learned this song when _______.”
- “I like this song because _________.”
- “This song reminds me of__________.”
- “I want to sing ____ because_________.”
These are some of the stories shared in my groups. Sometimes group members have similar stories, at other times very different stories. There seems to be a joy in the sharing the commonalities along with the differences. Smiles, tears, memories come forth. We even look into the history of some of the songs to answer some “why’s” that arise from the singing. The era, setting, personal history of the composer, reason for writing will often show in the lyrics.
I encourage you to take the time to ask someone their song stories – no matter their age. Who knows where it will lead?