Thursday, May 13, 2010

balm for the oil sick soul

uploader at youtube wrote: Yolanda Rhodes sings 'Balm In Gilead', a traditional Negro Spiritual that is typically performed as an American classical art song. She and her ensemble infused this spiritual with a unique West Indian style.

This makes absolutely no sense really, but ever since the oil catastrophe began in the Gulf of Mexico this song will not leave my mind. I saw a report this week on how the people of New Orleans are waiting in agony for the oil to reach their area, with the possible outcome being a city altered for decades and maybe forever. A local chef/restaurant owner could not hold back tears during his interview. And I thought of this song. I think of what a waste of time it seems to hope it won't destroy the fishing industry in that area and how prayers to save the birds and fish feel senseless, as if we are consigned this time to endure destruction and watch death. But there is this song...

The lyrics to Balm in Gilead do not represent my own personal beliefs. Why, then, I wonder, does it soothe my spirit to hear it now? I mean I actually sought it out at youtube, listening to countless versions -- and when I heard this one by Yolanda Rhodes (who I had never heard of before) the song came through her voice smack into my heart.

So I am posting it. Because, for some inexplicable pulling to do so, I must.

Assorted References:

  • Winter - From the Journal of Henry David Thoreau Feb. 19, 1854 . . . . I observe the great, well-protected buds of the balm of Gilead, spearhead-like. There is no shine upon them now, and their viscidness is not very apparent. A great many willow catkins show a little down peeping from under the points of the scales, but I have no doubt that all this was done last fall. I noticed it then.
  • The great 1996 movie, The Spitfire Grill, where I first heard the song Balm of Gilead. Note: the movie trailer doesn't work at the site describing the movie. I found the actual scene where the song is sung and it can be viewed at youtube h-e-r-e.

Description of the plant/tree with the name "balm of Gilead" varies:  
  • (in balm (herb)) ...bells of Ireland. Aromatic exudations from species of Commiphora (trees and shrubs of the incense-tree family) may also be referred to as balm. Balm of Gilead, or balm of Mecca, is the myrrhlike resin from Commiphora...
  • The “balm of Gilead” (Genesis 37:25; Jeremiah 8:22), used medicinally in antiquity, was the mastic obtained from Pistachia lentiscus; it now commonly refers to buds of a species of North American poplar (Populus) used to make cough syrups.

What was Gilead?

Who titled her 2009 album Balm in Gilead (but does not sing the actual song in the album)?


I am going to order some of this stuff to use on the rashes I keep getting on my legs and arms.


For any Biblical scholars who happen upon this post, I found a post about balm in Gilead at the blog of a professor of the old testament, in which he offers: The purpose of my post is to provide an alternative reading to Jeremiah’s words, a reading that I believe, reflects the true intent of what Jeremiah was trying to communicate to his audience. Click here to read it.


Yolanda Rhodes' website for more of her songs, stories, and art.



Looking to the Stars said...

Wow, this post was great!!!
I have felt moved by a song the same way, it wasn't the words it was the music itself. It spoke to my soul. I have always felt that music had a bonding and could unite people from all backgrounds.

I am going to come back for the link on the guys version of Jeraimah. Sounds totally intersting. You always stimulate my mind with your posts. Thank you!

I know I've misspelled a couple of words but I'm to tired to look them up and I want to get this posted, please forgive :)

Lydia said...

Looking to the Stars~ I was sure happy to have this comment from you, the only one for the day. Thanks for breaking the loneliness, for these special words. :)

Hattie said...

Lydia: This was really so wonderful. But how sad this all is. Even knowing who to blame doesn't help. I feel overwhelmed, and I think many others feel the same.

Lydia said...

Hattie~ I so appreciate your comment, and certainly your sentiments and emotions because I share them with you...with everyone.

kj said...

ah lydia, chills....

i was in new orleans with the red cross 3 weeks after katrina. it is incomprehensible to think this level of loss is happening there again. i am now fully against off shore drilling. i'm glad i feel certain.

i keep hoping for someone to say it won't be so bad. and i keep imagining the wings of birds with that f---ing oil that won't come off.

thank you as always.

lydia, i think you would like to visit my friend angela recada, if you're up for a new and wonderful bloggy friend.


Maggie May said...

you have such beautifully creative and diverse interests

Lydia said...

kj~ I know what you mean when you say you are glad you feel certain. Where I was against it I could find some justification for it in small numbers in "safe" places. I now am 100% against it and will continue writing the White House and my Congressional leaders to tell them so.

That's wonderful that you were in New Orleans with the Red Cross. I am now at all surprised that you would do something of that magnitude in terms of selflessness.

I will have to check your blog for info on Angela...

Maggie May~ What a nice thing for you to tell me!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your this.
I am happy for you.This is intresting.Did you notice that I put
blog give up award?Thank you♥

Lydia said...

Kata~ Yes! I just visited you and saw it. And I think your picnic looked so sweet.

the watercats said...

There is hardly any coverage on the news of the oil catastrophe, which sickens me!.. I can only imagine how many lives have been ruined by this, both in the human and animal realms..
This is such a gut wrenching song! and there's something about the word 'balm' that is so reassuring. It's one of the few words in english that sounds like what it is

Lydia said...

the watercats~ News coverage is lessening each day, which infuriates me also. There is more online but you have to dig for it.
Balm...yes! It is a beautifully reassuring word and as you noted it sounds like what it is. I also really like the sound of the word Gilead. In fact, I was lately wondering if I'd ever had a kid how he/she would have liked Gilead for a name!



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