I’m not a country fan.
Anyone who knows me well knows that twang’n’sang or songs to cry-by-and-die by, complete with boots, hats, Wranglers and big hair isn’t my thing. (smiling slightly right now, knowing I live in a town that easily outdoes any Texan community by seconds on the back of a bull… & if you know how important seconds are on the back of a bull, you’ll know exactly what I mean!) I dig classical, jazz, blues, rock, alternative, indie (whatever that means now that everyone wants to be independent), female symphonic metal, celtic, folk, new age, goth… you name it! But call it an aversion to the Gaither Family’s sound, or simply my own taste. Country has never appealed to me.
But people who know me well also know that I have closet country favourite songs. I won’t repeat them here, because… well. That’s for me to know & listen to when no one’s around. 🙂
I wanted to share Reba McEntire’s song with you because it’s one of those songs from the underground that rises up with persistent wings. We live in a world where we hear of mass killings and slaughter, human trafficking, the need for reconciliation with indigenous peoples around the world but see so few steps forwards, poverty, climate change, church “culture wars”, violence against LGBTQ+ people, and it goes on and on.
As a musical form, the chant has become almost a dinosaur in mainstream music. Liturgical churches often use chants, but for certain times, places and spaces. Why we strayed from using such a potent expression of prayer, I don’t know. But McEntire’s song “Pray for Peace” embraces its simple chant. And her chant is her prayer.
When we’re faced with onslaughts of devastation and violence, sometimes one-word prayers are all we can offer. We’re depleted in such formidable ways, we can’t imagine ourselves on our knees, speaking word after word, phrase after spiritual phrase to God. Sometimes, we whisper a chant.
And it’s one the most powerful whispers we can breathe.