Saturday, February 28, 2009

This We Know, God is Nigh

Just this week, someone sent an email with the alleged origins of Taps. I found the story hard to swallow, so I did a little research. It would appear the story circulating about the Union Soldier who found his moaning Confederate son dying on the battlefield is inaccurate.

Instead, the wide belief is during the Civil War that General Daniel Butterfield of the Army of the Potomac felt the bugle tune of "Lights Out" was too formal. He reworked the tune with the help of his bugler, Oliver Wilcox Norton.

Whatever the origin, this soulful tune brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat whenever I hear it. The tune is deeply wrenching to the families in its use in military funerals. In all the mourning emotions brought out during the playing of this tune, there is hope.

My newly widowed mother placed ear plugs in her ears in the hope she wouldn't have to listen to the tune when her gentle warrior giant was laid to rest. She felt she would never stop crying if she listened to it at that particular moment. Instead, as the bugler played Taps on the hill off in the distance, accompanied by a 21 gun salute, she bowed her head. Later, she said the ear plugs did not cover the melody of Taps. Rather, the notes were muffled and among the most beautiful she had ever heard.

With that said, and with the memories of Taps in my head as I write, let me leave you with one of the versions of lyrics for the tune.

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

Yes, America, God is nigh. With all of the discouraging news right now, let us not forget, God is nigh.

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