Tag Archives: singing

remembering three words 8 ways

Some of us created lists of three words at the beginning of the year. But how do you remember them? Because it’s Tuesday and February, I figured we could all use a reminder about reminding ourselves.  (See Chris Brogan’s post on three words for 2009 for background.)

1. Create a wordle (wordle.net) of the three words and other words that matter to you. If you type the three words multiple times, they show up bigger. If I were good, I’d provide a wordle tutorial, but I’m not that good. (Besides, there is this issue of focus that I’m working on).

2. Let other people know your three words. They can help you find material or ideas or accountability. For example, I have a guy in Texas feeding me ideas and asking how I’m doing. (Thanks, Tim).

3. Explore your three words regularly. I’m doing it here at the Levite Chronicles. In fact, if you look back through my posts this year, you will find regular links to focus and to deliberate practice. Singing is my own problem and I’m not writing about it.

4.  Find opportunities to talk about your words in other settings. For example, I had the opportunity to do some training. I had my choice of topic. Of course I picked deliberate practice. The more we become our own experts on our own words, the more likely we are to do what we wanted to do.

5. Be willing to change your words. So your three words for the year become your three words for six weeks and then two of them change. Big deal. You are adjusting.

6. Write summaries of your progress. Whether in your blog or in a journal or using a Sharpie on your bathroom mirror, let yourself know that you are working on this list. You’ll be more likely to trust yourself in the future if you are holding yourself accountable to yourself for encouragement as well as criticism.

7. Lighten up.

8. On your calendar for April 22, write “three words review.” That way, after Easter, after spring break, around the equinox, you’ll have a reminder to think through what you are doing.

So, do you remember your three words?


how can I keep from singing?

Apparently it doesn’t take much.

Oh, sorry. That sentence is the answer to the question in the title.

I know. You thought I was talking about the song that Pete Seeger made famous, that Enya sang, that Bruce Springsteen sang. You thought I was talking about the song that I first heard from Noel Paul Stookey when I was a college student 30 years ago, the song that our daughter is singing in one of her school choirs this winter.

Really, it’s a question that has led to the second of my words for this new year. The first was “focus“. The second is “singing“.

That seems to be an odd word for a year. It’s not very specific. It’s not very productive.


Singing conveys an attitude. It conveys a sense of gratitude, of contentedness. At least for me. And I realized during Christmas that I wasn’t singing. There were carols and I wasn’t singing along. In fact, there is singing every Sunday morning and I realized that I’m not singing, not consistently.  I have realized that there is a tightness when I sing.

So I have decided that this year I will sing. It will take practice. It will take choosing to sing. It will take reloading my iPod with singable songs. It will mean paying attention to lyrics. It will mean paying attention.

But I’m guessing that I will be different when I start singing again.

You know, it’s funny. Robert Lowry, the writer of the song mentioned earlier, looked at his songwriting as less important than his preaching. He was, after all, a preacher. But no one knows his sermons. Many people have heard and sung and learned and clung to his songs.

Maybe singing matters after all.


How can I keep from singing?

Lyrics by Robert Lowry

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds 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?

always in the picture

This picture is a lousy picture. A good picture would show the choirs singing, up close. An acceptable picture might include part of the choir loft railing, maybe as part of the framing.

But this picture. This is lousy.

It shows the ugly bracket on the back of the railing. It shows the rows of seats in the loft. It shows my knee.

And you can barely see the choirs, the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir and the American Boychoir.

But this is the kind of blogpost I like to read, posts that are written like this picture is composed.

I like to see the writer, to get a glimpse of who they are. The idea of an anonymous writer has an arrogance at a time when it is acceptable to acknowledge your existence. If there is any perspective at all in the piece, any proclamation of that this post is factual and true and must be followed, I need to know how you are sitting. I need to see your knee.

I like to see the context, the rough edges, the microphones and the flag holders. I spend enough time backstage at events that I like to know what the backstage of your life looks like. The conversations that happen off-stage, the side of the service that the choir sees, the view from the balcony–that’s what intrigues me. I need to see where you are sitting.

Of course, I do like to see the choir itself, the object of your attention. And getting that in focus is important. But that is the polished part, that is the part made to look good. And I know now that it is actually pretty easy to make things look good.

So I’m saying that I like to see the writer, to see the context, and maybe to see the subject. And maybe what makes a good post is different that what makes a good photograph. Maybe the standards are different.

But what is really compelling about both a photograph and a post is what is missing from both.

This is a picture of and a post about a choir. And neither of them come anywhere close to what a choir is about:

The singing.

The voices of sixty children from two choirs and multiple states and multiple nationalities and multiple religions singing these words by Moses Hogan: “I may not be all that you are, I may not be a shining star, but what I am I thank the Lord for making me his child.” And those voices rising higher than the arches in the picture and blending and layering.

It’s the singing that makes a choir. And a picture. And a post.

And it’s the singing that you can’t see.

But when I listen to you, when I read what you write, when I look at what you see…

I want to hear the singing.

Because then I won’t care about perfect composition.