Song for Athene

  • When I was in college, I sang in various choirs throughout my time there. We always did tours during Holy Week around the country. On one of these tours, I think my sophomore year, our choir director selected the most difficult song I’ve ever had to sing, a song I actually couldn’t sing the entire way through. It was called Song for Athene. If you search for it on YouTube and give a listen, you might be wondering why it was so challenging for me to sing. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song, but it’s pretty slow and standard for a good choir.

    In those days I sang Bass 2, the lowest notes on the page. The Bass 2 part for Song for Athene is one note. One. Note. Now you’re probably really confused. How could one note be the hardest song I’ve ever sung? The one note was an F. It’s the note just below the staff in the bass clef. My fellow Bass 2s and I had to hold that F, staggering our breathing, for about seven minutes. I sang that song nearly 100 times and I never ever made it to the end. About four minutes into the song my voice couldn’t hit that note anymore. I waited for 30 seconds, tried again, and just struggled into the song was over.

    Sometimes the most challenging things in life are the things that don’t require a lot of flash or thought or even talent, but they do require prolonged consistency and steadiness.

    This is how Lent feels to me. Lent requires a level of persistence and steadiness that is hard to maintain. The tasks are no more challenging than in Epiphany or Advent or any other time of the year. But in Lent, I sometimes find myself needing a breath, needing to take extra breaks before I start again.

    And that’s okay. I am, after all, only human. Life continues its symphony around me, even when I need to take a break and breathe.

    As you journey toward the cross this Lenten season, don’t forget to breathe.

    God’s Blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

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