Counter Melody


The oddest thing happened last Sunday. We were driving to church and the song that has become most requested, by both boys, came on. For Alex, it was always called, “Paralyze“, but Drew’s managed to get “Paradise” (from Coldplay’s latest album, “Mylo Xyloto“) out from the start. Alex was obsessed with it prior to Drew becoming aware of his older brother’s sensibilities. I have been surprised to see how drawn to it Drew was as well. Maybe something about the beat, the melody & the song just pulls the listener in?

Despite hearing “Paradise” over and over since the Fall of 2011, I had never heard a certain melody woven in on the piano right before the chorus began—until Sunday. It startled me enough that I rewound the song 3 times to double check—listening harder for the counter melody that had been there all along.

As good ‘ol Wikipedia defined for me, “In music, counter-melody (often countermelody) is a sequence of notes, perceived as a melody, written to be played simultaneously with a more prominent lead melody: a secondary melody played in counterpoint with the primary melody. A counter-melody performs a subordinate role, and is typically heard in a texture consisting of a melody plus accompaniment.”

I didn’t see this section of “Paradise” as the melody, more the subordinate role, as I’d never perceived it previously. It was the texture that wove itself into the song, adding to the richness, but not separated, heard or previously defined by my own senses.

In life, these moments happen to me and often provide clarity. The times which surprise—we realize that all along, something was moving and pulsing, providing foundation and “texture” in our lives. Somehow, though, we’d missed its presence. That counter melody was providing a “counterpoint”, potentially a “subordinate role”, an “accompaniment”. Yet….. we missed it.

This week is Holy Week. The time of silence, reflection and grief. It is a week of communion over The Table. Of crying out to God as the rock is placed over the tomb and “It is finished” is cried. This week is flanked by palms and “Hosanna” and “He is Risen“. But in the middle, the counter melody still moves.

These days, my life it so full with strong melodies that seem impossible to block out. Anxieties, frustrations, demands and needs of our two boys are truly at a fever pitch. The countermelodies that swirl below the surface are so muted. Sinking into Holy Week feels tough. In the moments where it seems too hard to hear, God, may you illuminate us. Open our ears. Give us space—-even as we drive our cars to Trader Joes, unpack the kids & paraphernalia at the park, walk the dog in the dark mornings, whip together meals with competing cries for help from little ones—-in those seemingly impenetrable moments, Lord, break in. Just like our Easter eggs that are continually cracked open by eager two year old hands, allow those cracks to provide space for light to come in. Allow the counter melody to rise up and give us ears to hear it.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
~Leonard Cohen

Coldplay Paradise music video from Cinergy on Vimeo.

One thought on “Counter Melody

  1. Great blog, Christine. I hope you have many young mothers ( as well as us older folks) following you. You have a gift that we appreciate and look forward to.

    ****************************** A gun gives you the body, not the bird. William David Thoreau

    Kerry Gough 510 610 7105

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