Song Ditties

I composed little songs for special occasions as they came up in life, from the birth of little people to Psalms I cantored in church.

When the pastor of our church became a father, I composed “Hey little Andrew, watcha gonna do?”

When we went to the Smokey Mountains to celebrate my nephew Josh Paulson’s birthday, I wrote “We’re here with Josh in Shenandoah; ice cream and cake and coca-cola.”

When my grandson Justin was born, I sang a song for him the first day he came to church with his mother. Being worship leader, I had taught my musicians the melody, and they accompanied me.

I wrote a dirge for Linda Smith, President of the Bearded Collie Club of Manitoba, the night she was killed driving a motorcycle in the rain on the way to her 21st birthday party.

I composed “Tale of Brother Judd” for no reason at all except that I was inspired by the song “Poor Judd is Dead” from the musical Oklahoma. That summer I was a member of a historical club that re-enacted historic moments. One day I was the musician outside the governor’s mansion at Lower Fort Garry, singing Red River songs. A music historian came by to listen. I sang “Poor Judd…”, not knowing he was there. He said he had never heard that one before. The refrain’s words were “Red River wheels keep turning, keep turning, groaning and moaning, stuck in the mud: this is the tale of Brother Judd.”

At St. Mary Magdalene Anglican we had a great music leader, Lisa Ilchyshyn, who was encouraging to all us hobby musicians in the church choir. I looked up in the Lectionary what the Psalm would be the following Sunday, then wrote verses that rhymed and composed a refrain for the congregation to sing after each verse. Before Eucharist began, Lisa would teach the people in the pews how to sing the refrain after I cantored each verse. That was probably the best period of my diverse church-going life.

When Diane’s parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at a big party planned by Diane and Maureen, their daughters, I wrote “Here’s a little love song, a folk song you say, marriage celebration’s golden ray.” I taught all the guests how to sing a short refain.

When I was in recovery at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, we had a big daily morning meeting. Music was not part of the 12-step program there, but I broke the rule one morning.

I composed a round song in two parts, brought it to morning meeting, taught it to the 30 or so guys and had them sing it, first one side of 15, then the other side of 15. That was the only time the AFM ever saw 30 drug addicts and jailbirds sing a round song about Higher Power.

I composed “A Passover Chant” to be sung one Easter when our friends Walter and Mary Klassen planned a simulated flight out of Egypt from their home to Cook’s Creek Grotto to our home. I had a ram’s horn that bleated its way into the chant halfway through.

On a trip to Branson, when Diane worked with stained glass as a hobby, I composed a song for her with the words: “You do for us what stained glass does for the sun.”

I could go on but that’s enough, except to mention that my daughters combined the songs we had composed together on our many trips, and sang the result at my 77th birthday party. That was in the WestEnd Commons with close to 77 people in attendance.

Little people used to inspire me.

They still do, especially my first Great Granddaughter Chloe. I should compose a ditty for her.

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