It must have been early in the morning of the fourth day
that God in the pre-dawn, deep-blue-blackness whispered to himself, “Music,”
though it wasn’t the English word, music,
English not yet existing, nor for that matter any other earth
language. God said “Music” softly in God language,
as he imagined all those birds at dawn—
though why it had to be birds that sang and not, say,
rodents or cats or large non-human mammals—I don’t know. (Blue whales,
of course, sing and have actually made a best-selling album, still it’s
birds that are the earth’s primary singers—they do it for a living, so to speak.)
But he must have heard in his mind’s ear
all those birds waking up, breaking the silence
with their first hesitant chirps and cheeps, trills and gurgles,
then gradually gaining confidence and soaring into songs of dawn.
What a good idea, music, maybe his best creation
though it’s hard to pick one best thing,
humans being a pretty good idea, in spite of the fall,
and marriage and sex, and all the tasty foods,
and language, all languages,
but especially English—and here I know my bias is showing—
English being my native language and the only one I speak.
But back to music. I suspect it was birds who planted in humans the notion that
they could sing, and then pretty soon Jubal was tinkering with strings and whistles
and not long after that in God time, I stood in the Chorus
of The Siouxland Oratorio singing with others
the great choruses of Handel’s Messiah. He
knew what he was doing—I mean God, not Handel—though Handel
certainly did all right and so did the Chorus and Orchestra—
but we’re all just birds, really,
all of us warbling as best we can in praise of the Creator, who back in the darkness
of pre-creation thought how nice it would be to hear his creation sing.
And perhaps he also thought then how much his creatures
might be comforted by the songs they sang to him.
I’ll bet he did.
Reprinted from Illuminated Manuscript (2012) with permission of Dordt College Press.