Saturday, October 24, 2009

Father I Adore You – Terrye Coelho Strom

A birth took place in sisters Terrye and Cathy Coelho’s car in southern California in 1972. But, it wasn’t a boy or a girl. It could be said that in fact a ‘father’ was born in that car. What? Terrye says that car ride with her sister was where she wrote the song “Father, I Adore You”, a tune that extols the Father, and the Son and Holy Spirit too. Terrye Coelho says some other things about this song’s origin that probably seem unconventional, at least to those who haven’t been born like her. The Coelho sisters were driving to and from a fun time in Newport Beach that summer, and doing what lots of teenagers do when on the road. Singing. I remember being on a bus with other teenagers in the 1970’s, and we sang lots of songs to pass the time, perhaps because we were all band kids and music seemed so natural to us. I cannot remember ever having sung spiritual tunes, though, so our singing never conceived nor brought to fruition anything that notable. Terrye Coelho seems to have somewhat the same attitude, saying that she was only the “vessel” through whom God worked that day. And, the song she helped God deliver that day was so simple, at least on paper it might look a little underwhelming. It contains some very simple thoughts about love and devotion, and transparency before the Holy One. One might say it’s summed up as ‘God, I’m open to you and I love and admire you’. That’s it. Indeed, the words of the song are just about that simple. Terrye says that’s what makes the song, and one other thing she and her sister did with it, such a winner. Terrye and Cathy sang the song as a round, meaning one of them sang about the Father first, and then the other joined in singing about Jesus. With three people, a third person could join in on the third ‘round’ appreciating the Spirit. That makes it possible for a group -- like a church -- to sing to the Trinity all at the same moment. And, the musical harmony that Terrye heard the Spirit speaking to her was pretty simple too, but just as memorable as the words. Each voice sings a different part of the song’s chords, perhaps not unlike the unique, but complementary, voices of the Trinity. It’s a beautifully straightforward way to think about music – hear the chords, and just do a ‘do-mi-so’. It’s not hard, but one does have to listen and sense how one’s voice and notes fit into the overall scheme. Hmmm…kinda how one’s life fits into and around others in the kingdom, huh? Maybe God says something in music that we need to listen to and practice more intently. One source for Terrye Coelho Strom’s song story is the book “Celebrate Jesus: The Stories behind Your Favorite Praise and Worship Songs”, by Phil Christensen and Shari MacDonald, Kregel Publications, 2003. See also “The Complete Book of Hymns – Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs”, by William J. and Ardythe Petersen, 2006.

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