how can i keep from singing? – martin sheen on prairie home companion 9/27/07

martin sheen was the special guest on today’s Prairie Home Companion show (9.30.07)

Sheen said he’d never sung in public before, but now he wanted to sing his favorite hymn because of the “great lamentation” that’s “rising out of the violent darkness descending on Burma”…. he describes, “in response we lift up our voice in a simple act of faith and nonviolent solidarity with the Burmese people.” He sang the first and last verse, if i remember correctly. his rendition and the context in which he put it was very moving.

and the words:

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

What through the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?


the verses (2nd and 3rd) originally penned by Robert Wadsworth Lowry in 1860.

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—
How can I keep from singing?


The whole situation in Burma– about the junta government violently crushing dissent. and apparently the monks will not let this go. i still have to read more about it. it’s in today’s sunday NYT. “What Makes Monks Mad”

for some reason i’m thinking the lyrics to “This War” by Sting.
despite the attempts of the Myanmar government to downplay or cover up what is going on (shutting down internet, phones) , we know that this is going on. and we shouldn’t take our freedom of speech for granted.

‘There’s a war on our democracy
A war on our dissent
There’s a war inside religion
And what Jesus might have meant’


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