Silent Night has long been my favorite Christmas carol. This is the first piece I’ve done strictly a cappella, and I’d have to say, it was a lot of fun. Even though the audio here only has one verse, the sheet music has three verses, so you can do as many as you want when you sing it.
What do you think?
A week ago, Jenni and I learned that our baby, due March 2014, had miscarried. I can’t express in words the kinds of emotions I’ve been experiencing for this last week. The closest thing I can think to say is that our hearts are broken, but our faith is strong.
I’ve been trying to come up with the appropriate arrangement of Count Your Blessings for several weeks, and before last week, nothing I tried felt right. I attempted numerous times to come up with something that worked for me, but it just wouldn’t click. If I can’t get a spark in a piece, I can’t publish it. I just can’t bring myself to do it. If there’s no spark, the arrangement doesn’t leave my computer. That’s what was happening with this one.
Then we got the news.
The first day, I took the day off to be with my family. When things like this happen, the most precious things in life suddenly become even more dear to me. The next day wasn’t easy, but I knew I had to keep going. When I sat down to make another attempt at “Count Your Blessings,” it came so fast and effortlessly that I’m confident I had help. It was so different than all my previous attempts, but this time, it sparked immediately.
As I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve never struggled to record my voice as much I did with this piece. In order to even get through it, I had to force myself to not think about what I’d just been through. Have you ever tried to force yourself not to think about something? Let alone something this big?
Anyway, it got me thinking about the words a bit. How exactly does a cheerful, optimistic person (like I’m always striving to become) deal with tragedy? How do I see the upside, or silver lining, in the loss of a loved one? How do I find happiness in that?
Well, one way, at least, is simply this: to count my blessings. I have the most loving, beautiful wife in the world, and the sweetest, funnest kids in the world. I’ve been blessed with an absolute certainty of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the eternal nature of the family and life itself. I’m so blessed.
And myriads wait for his word.
He speaks! And eternity, filled with His voice,
Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.
Sheet music available on my website.
While I’ve been writing music for over 17 years, this week marks four years from the time I put out my first piece of sheet music. If I had known the incredible response the sheet music would have, I would have started putting it out much sooner!
I just wanted to offer my deepest thanks for all you have done to help bring about my dream to become a full-time musician. It’s your purchasing the sheet music that’s done it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every time you download another piece, it keeps food on my family’s table, and keeps me writing more music.
We’re still working to get above the poverty line (the cliche of the starving artist has become the story of my life), and the road isn’t easy, but your support is a much bigger encouragement than you can imagine. I love being able to bless the world with the gifts God has so generously given. It’s a calling that can be challenging, overwhelming, and so incredibly rewarding. I don’t perform in public very often. You’re the ones carrying the music out to the world. You’re the ones making a difference in the lives of those who hear you play. You’re touching hearts and blessing souls. What a beautiful thing!
Today also marks my 50th piece put to sheet music. If you haven’t been to my homepage lately, take scroll down and look and the fun mix of sheet music listed. I used to get teased at the MTC because I loved the hymns of zion so much. That was almost 15 years ago. I think the Lord was shaping my musical heart even back then.
So again, I just wanted to say thanks. Let’s keep making the world a better, more beautiful place.
One of my favorite quotes is by President Ezra Taft Benson. He said, “Nothing is going to startle us more when we passthrough the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know ourFather and how familiar his face is to us.” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts andExpectations,” in Speeches of the Year, 1974, Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1975, p. 313.)
I believe that. God is not a distant being. He’s a loving, intimate, and kind Father. He teaches, guides, chastises, and loves us all. Sometimes, like tantruming three-year-olds, we forget that, and think He must hate us because we’ve caused ourselves pain.
But in quiet moments, when we listen, we can hear His voice, whispering that He loves us, and wants to help us become more than what we are. And I think He’s whispering it a lot more often than we may think.
The sheet music and MP3 are available on my website.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find myself frustrated in my efforts to become all that my Father in Heaven wants me to be. There are so many voices, so many messages, so many possible answers to the everyday questions I’m faced with. It’s not that I’m struggling to decide whether or not to do what’s right, but I’m always struggling to know which thing is most right.
Should I be playing with mykids, or studying my scriptures? Should I fix my house or call a neighbor to see how he’s doing? Should I clean myhouse, or spend time with myspouse? Should I do another hour of work to support my family, or help my wife make dinner?
The toughest choices are often between good and good, and though the questions may sound trivial from a distance, they can really be really challenging in the moment. I sometimes wish I could get a quick, straight, yes or no from God. But He doesn’t usually work that way. He’s not just trying to tell me what to do, He wants to help me become what He needs me to be. Because of that, he let’s me decide. He’ll let me know if there’s something important He needs me to do right now, but otherwise, He wants me to make the choices.
Still, I think it’s always good to seek His will, even if the answers don’t come, so that when He does have something specific for me to do, I’m ready to do it. And the more I heed the direction He gives, the more I’ll learn to see as He sees, do as He would do, and feel what He feels.
Lord, be my eyes, words, thoughts, wisdom, home, strength, protection, armor, shelter, power, treasure, joy, and heart. Be exactly what you are: my everything.
You can listen to this music or get the sheet music by visiting mywebsite: http://chashathaway.
The Stranger and His Friend
A poor, wayfaring Man of grief hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief that I could never answer nay.
I had not pow’r to ask his name, whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye that won my love; I knew not why.
Once, when my scanty meal was spread, he entered; not a word he spake,
Just perishing for want of bread. I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again. Mine was an angel’s portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste, the crust was manna to my taste.
I spied him where a fountain burst clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
The heedless water mocked his thirst; he heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the suff’rer up; thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o’er; I drank and never thirsted more.
‘Twas night; the floods were out; it blew a winter hurricane aloof.
I heard his voice abroad and flew to bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest and laid him on my couch to rest,
Then made the earth my bed and seemed in Eden’s garden while I dreamed.
Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death, I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath, revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment–he was healed. I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart, and peace bound up my broken heart.
In pris’n I saw him next, condemned to meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed, and honored him ‘mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try, he asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill, but my free spirit cried, “I will!”
Then in a moment to my view, the stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew; the Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named, “Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be; Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”
– James Montgomery
Thoughts have power. They shape our character. They shape our existence. They shape the nature of our being. No wonder we’re encouraged to watch our thoughts, guard them, and direct them for good.
We sometimes picture our minds as being storage spaces, and that we’re constantly sifting through files, gathering, grouping, and organizing information into something that will benefit us in a practical way.
I don’t see thoughts that way at all. Thoughts have no boundaries. They’re not limited by space, time, or possibility. They are like an energy cloud of infinite space and potential. They can create, reform, and change the course of universes. They influence everything, because everything we see is from the paradigm of our thoughts. And we, in physical form, effect the things we see.
But, some may argue, you can’t effect someone on the other side of the world just by thinking about them.
I disagree. You most certainly can. Think about that person enough, with real depth, and you’ll reach a point where you can’t not act out physically on your thoughts. Those thoughts leak out in your actions, words, and eyes, and in your interactions with other people. You are the embodiment of your thoughts. You can change yourself by your thoughts. You can change the world with your thoughts. The more you think on a thing, the more that thing comes into being. Eventually, things happen to effect that one person on the other side of the world. That’s the power of thought. Thoughts determine choices, and choices change the world.
Given enough time and attention, a single thought can alter the course of the world.
How much more effective then, is your thought of the creator of everything you’ve ever seen.
Jesus Christ is a man—a perfect, resurrected, omnipotent, and powerful man, but He is a man. He has thoughts, and His thoughts govern the universe.
And if you, also a human being, think on that eternal being, and connect with Him, your influence over the universe expands beyond anything you might think on your own. The very thought of the Savior, who both created and bought the universe, empowers you to do so much more than you could otherwise do.
You may long for his presence. You may picture His face, the very embodiment of eternity. You may think of His life, His choices, His sacrifice. You may think of His perfection, atonement, and His eternal glory. You may think of your own experiences with Him. You may think of Him daily. But whatever you do, think of Him. The very thought of the Savior has power to shape the universe, for you, for your loved ones, and for the whole human race, now and forever.
But our true selves, the essence of our nature, the spirit that invigorates our flesh, was born of eternal matter, to parents more lasting than the universe itself.
We live on.
We sometimes call death a passing. If death is a passing, it’s like passing a friend in the hallway. First he comes into view, and we acknowledge him, then he passes. He isn’t gone. He doesn’t cease to exist because he is no longer before us. He passes, walks on, lives on.
We sometimes call death a journey. If death is a journey, it’s like a journey from one room into the next. The friend isn’t far simply because she is in the next room. She is still close enough to hear and see, except for a thin wall; a wall that sometimes better resembles glass than concrete.
Some call death a separation. If death is a separation, it’s like stepping back from an embrace. Without physical contact, we may experience loneliness. But even eye contact, one of the most powerful connections, can be maintained at a short, if temporary distance.
Perhaps we’re uncomfortable with goodbyes because deep down, we know there is no such thing. Were it not for the Savior Jesus Christ, all goodbyes would be final. But because of Him, they no longer exist. And for those who choose His path, the reunions will be glorious.