Showing posts with label singing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label singing. Show all posts

Monday, 10 August 2015

Music in the Dungeon

I don’t suppose it would be very much fun being  locked up in a dungeon, would you? As a matter of fact I can’t think of one thing pleasant about it. Just listening to the background noises would be quite disturbing to say the least. Hear all that screaming? Without a doubt someone is getting a beating with far more stripes than most crimes could ever warrant. Then of course there is the bitter quarreling, curses and terrible groans of agony…and the mean, nasty, long teethed rats…

                Enough for the sounds: what about the smells? Maybe we shouldn’t even go there, it reeks like, like  an old fashioned outhouse . Enough said, right, because there are people living in that filth.

                There’s plenty of prisoners confined tonight in those dreadful quarters and it is pitch dark. No one can see their hand, even if they put it right in front of their face. That is enough miseries right? But things are about to get worse. The whole stone building begins to tremble and shake, and this is in the black of night, mind you. All other sounds are drowned out by the blood curdling screams of a hundred captives.

When the ruckus dies down a bit, the strangest sound can be heard. It is of singing. Singing? In a dungeon? In the dark of night? During an earthquake? Yes, and it was as soothing as a canary’s melody in a coal mine.

Who are those singing under such dire circumstances? It is Paul and Silas., not that you can see them, mind you, but they are the two confined by stocks.

I also am confined against my will. It is the prison of my flesh which urges me to do things I really shouldn’t, and makes it difficult to soar like an eagle to heights of power and victory in Jesus like I long to. Someday my chains also will be loosened and so, meanwhile I can sing in prison!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Death Penalty--and Joy!

A true story)

“ One of the strangest experiences in my life is connected with war, says Nordenberg, an eminent engineer in Finland.

“I offered my services to the government and was appointed as an officer in General Mannerheim’s army. It was a terrible time. We besieged the town. It had been taken by the Red Army and we retook it. A number of the Red soldiers were under my guard. Seven of them were to be shot at dawn on Monday. I shall never forget the preceeding Sunday. The seven doomed men were kept in the basement of the town hall. In the passageway my men stood at attention with their rifles.

“The atmosphere was filled with hatred. My soldiers were drunk with victory and taunted their prisoners. Some swore as much as they could and beat the walls with their bleeding fists. Others called for their wives and children who were far away. At dawn they were all to die.

“We had the victory, that was true enough; but the value of this seemed to diminish as the night advanced. I began to wonder if there did not rest a curse on arms whichever side used them.

“Then something happened. One of the men doomed to death began to sing. “He is mad” was everybody’s first thought. But I had noticed this man, Koskinen, had not raved and curved like the others. Quietly he had sat on the bench, a picture of utter despair.  Nobody said anything to him—each was carrying his burden in his own way and Koskinen sang, rather waveringly at first, but then his voice grew stronger, and filled out, and became natural and free. All the prisoners turned to look at the singer who now seemed to be in his element.

Safe in the arms of Jesus

Safe on His gentle breast

There by His love o’er shadowed

Sweetly my soul shall rest

Hark tis the voice of angels

Born in a song to me

Over the fields of glory,

Over the jasper sea.

“Over and over again Koskinen sang that verse and when he was finished everyone was quiet for a few minutes until a wild-looking individual broke out with “Where did you get that, you fool? Are you trying to make us religious?”  Koskinen looked at his comrades and his eyes filled with tears. Then he asked quietly, “Comrades, will you listen to me for a few minutes? You asked me where I got that song. It was from the Salvation Army.  I heard it there three weeks ago. At first I also laughed but it got to me. It is cowardly to hide your beliefs; the God my mother believed in has now become my God also. I cannot tell how it happened, but I know it has happened.  I lay awake last night and suddenly felt I had to find the Savior and hide in Him. Then I prayed-like the thief on the cross-that Christ would forgive me and cleanse my sinful soul, and make me ready to stand before Him whom I should meet soon.”

“It was a strange night, “continued Koskinen. “There were times when everything seemed to shine around me. Verses from the Bible and from the Song Book came to mind. They brought a message of the crucified Savior and the blood that cleanses from sin and of the Home He has prepared for us. I thanked Him, accepted it, and since then this verse has been sounding inside me. It was God’s answer to my prayer. I could no longer keep it to myself. Within a few hours I shall be with the Lord, saved by His grace.

“Koskinen’s face shone as by an inward light. His comrades sat there quietly. He himself stood there transfixed. My soldiers were listening to what this Red revolutionary had to say.

““You are right, Koskinen,” one of  of his comrades said at last. “If only I knew there was mercy for me too! But these hands of mine have shed blood and I have reviled God and trampled on all that is holy.  Now I realize that there is a Hell and that it is the proper place for me.”

“He sank to the ground with despair depicted on his face.  “Pray for me Koskinen,” he groaned, “Tomorrow I will die and my soul will be in the hands of the devil!”

“And there these two Red soldiers went down on their knees and prayed for each other. It was no long prayer, but it opened Heaven for both, and we who listened to it forgot our hatred. It melted in the light from Heaven, for here two men who were soon to die, sought reconciliation with God. A door leading into the invisible stood ajar and we were entranced by the sight.

“Let me tell you shortly that by the time it was four o’clock all Koskinen’s comrades had followed his example and began to pray. The change in the atmosphere was indescribable. Some of them sat on the floor, others talked of spiritual things.

“The night had almost gone and day was dawning. No one had a moments sleep. “Sing the song once more for us, Koskinen,” said one of them. And you should of head them sing! Not only that song, but verses and choruses long forgotten came forth from their memories as buds (opening) in the sunshine. The soldiers on guard united their voices with them.

“The town clock struck six. How I wished I could have begged grace for these men, but knew this was impossible.

“Between two rows of soldiers they marched out to execution. One of them asked to be allowed once more to sing Koskinen’s song. Permission was granted. Then they asked to die with uncovered faces and hands raised to Heaven. They sang with might and main.

‘Safe in the arms of Jesus

Safe on His gentle breast…’

“When the last lines had died out the lieutenant gave the word “Fire!” and the seven Red soldiers had fought their last fight.  We inclined our heads in silent prayer.

“What happened to the hearts of the others, I do not know, but as far as I was concerned, I was a new man from that hour. I had met Christ in one of His lowliest and youngest disciples and I had seen enough to realize that I too, could be His.  “The Lord looketh from Heaven: He beholdeth all the sons of men.” Psalms 33:13

“Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life:  he that believeth in me, though he were to die, yet shall he live. John 11:25 RV)

Translated for “All the World” by Major Clara Becker. The War Cry

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Poor, Sweet Claudine

I suppose some of you might be wondering what happened to Claudine and her baby. I guess I shouldn't have put off finishing this story for so long, but it has been a bit hard to cope with. Claudine was faithful until the end. Amazingly, joyously faithful, something we can't comprehend because we have never been asked to suffer in that way. I believe her heart was broken that she was never able to see her infant again, but even I, with my limited understanding of agony know and have the assurance, that Jesus was there for her. I suppose she often wondered how little Jans was doing but perhaps he died at an early age which was so common in those days. I'm sure yearnings and prayers for her husband and children lingered in her heart at all times, but there was something more. God was giving her strength, she loved Jesus so much, and sensed her Saviour's love in return that she would have gone singing to her death if they wouldn't have gagged her. Well, she's gone to her reward now, and that is no idle platitude and perhaps I will someday get to know her on the Other Side.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Apprehended: Part Two

“Goedemorgen, Claudine!” Verena hurried over to the young mother who was strolling down a wooded path near their town home. “May I take a peek at your baby? Hallo Jans, did I wake you up? What a sweet little boy you are!” She sighed happily and looked around. “What a perfectly lovely day to be out for a walk. Aren't spring days beautiful?”
Claudine nodded. “ Pieter and Nicholaes do not play too far from the path. We need to go home after awhile to make supper for your father.”
“Where is Margriete?” Verena asked while she was making silly facial expressions to get the rosy cheeked lad to giggle.
“Over yonder,” Claudine pointed. “She is gathering an armful of flowers to fill our rooms with.”
“Meenen is such a pretty little town.”
Claudine fell silent. At least it doesn't have a dungeon like Ypres does. She suddenly felt cold and it had nothing to do with the stirring of a summer-like breese. How I would hate to be confined to a dark prison cell when the air is so fresh and there are all kinds of interesting things to do. She felt her grip tighten around the baby's small form. Verena didn't notice Claudine's change of mood. She was already rushing back to chat with Margriete.
“Mama!” Pieter called. “May I hold Jans please?”
Claudine handed the baby to his brother who promptly sat down in the grass and entertained him by tickling his face with a daisy.
What happy, sweet children I have, and such a good husband. Why then am I feeling cast-down in my soul, all of a sudden? Claudine started singing and the rich, pure tones filled the air with a rare beauty.
Claudine had a good soup cooking by the time Piersom entered the door. Claudine quirked her eyebrows. He didn't bound in with his usual boisterous good humor.
Piersom motioned for her to step outside.
“Margariete, you can start feeding Jans. He's so hungry after all that fresh air this afternoon. Yes, Piersom?”
Her husband closed the door behind Claudine before speaking. Then he laid his hands on her shoulders and looked deep into her warm, brown eyes. “ Hendric matched my step as I was returning home from work.”
Claudine nodded. Why such a sober look?
“Titelmannus is out and about.”
“Who is he?” Why did I whisper?
“The Dean of Ronse.”
When his wife still wore a blank expression, Piersom continued, “The Inquisitor.Hendric, a pious councillor warned me to flee. I will hide in yonder woods.”
“Could you not pause to sup with us? You must be tired after such a long day.”
“Nay, I must hasten. He may have rounded up the bailiffs already to come and fetch me.” He turned to go, then paused. “You come, to, Claudine. They may be after you as well.”
Claudine knew the danger they were in. “I will fetch the baby, but you go! Go! Don't wait for me! I'll be but a moment later.”

“Where's Papa?”
“Why doesn't Papa come in for supper? I am hungry!”
“Papa and I are going for a little walk. Go ahead and eat. Pieter, you can lead in prayer. Hallo Janzie! My what a sopping wet baby! Did he eat much?”
Margariete nodded. “Everything that I mashed up for him.”
Claudine quickly and deftly changed the baby's sodden garments then hurried out the door.
She saw a ragtag, but determined looking bunch of men heading down the street so ducked into the woods and quickened her pace.

Page 737
Claudine de Vettre


Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Couple Next Door

I've started another series about people from the Middle Ages and will try to to make it easier to keep them all straight. 
The older couple next door looked at each other and smiled when Claudine began to sing a lullaby.

“ Must be nap time for the baby,” George remarked as he brushed the unbleached burlap curtain aside to let in a a little of the sweet spring air.
Anna hobbled closer and peered over his shoulder. Claudine was strolling up and down in her small yard next door as she crooned to her little one.
“What a beautiful day,” George exclaimed. Makes me want to get behind a plow like I used to.”
Anna's face clouded. Yes it was a beautiful day for most everyone, but in yonder prison too many were chained in darkness just because they wanted to serve God differently that the rulers commanded. Why can't the priests be more tolerant, she thought fretfully as she snatched up the old, worn down straw broom and whisked it across the floor. Claudine and Piersom are so much happier now that they have accepted the new way. They used to come over nearly every week with questions about the Bible. George used to try and explain things to them as best as he knew how, but they were never satisfied.
Anna shoved the broom into the corner and clumped over to the table. She stacked the small amount of pottery dishes with more venom than was necessary and swished them in a bowl of water before turning them over to air dry.
“My aren't you grouchy this morning!”
Anna started. “It's, it's just that, that uh, it's such a beautiful day and I want to be outside.”
“Go out then,” George chortled. “I ain't tying you to the table leg.”
Anna gave him a quick, furtive glance as she reached for her shawl. Surely he knows the real reason I'm feeling all cross and out of sorts. That I am, what do they call it? A sympathizer. She glanced over her shoulder once again while scurrying out the door. They don't come a-callin' like they used to no more. Always has a friendly greeting when we meet, but no more questions. Anyone kin guess they probably went an' got themselves re-
baptized, but I'm sure not asking. Ain't none of my business. She lowered herself into the small garden patch behind the cottage and pulled weeds out of the still moist earth. Ain't no one else's business nether.

George went over to the window once again and followed his wife with his eyes. One unhappy woman she is. Every since Claudine gone and got herself converted—well at least we suspect she did-- Anna's eyes so often get stormy like. Sure too bad we can't talk things over like we usta. Everyone's afreed to speak their minds nowadays.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Which Time Is Easier, theirs or Ours?

Mariakin hovered in the back of the crowd.  For many weeks now she had been smuggling food to her father while he was in the dungeon and now she was compelled to watch him be burned at the stake with many others. Her spirit was weary, discouraged. Every day they suffered from the threat of persecution. She didn’t know how she could bear it much longer; this fleeing, this worrying, this fellowshipping in secret in the dead of night, in the storm and the cold, lest someone would reveal their whereabouts and tell the authorities.  One by one the fires were kindled in the rushes at the bottom of each stake. When the smoke began to curl up around her father’s stake, Mariakin fainted.