Heavenly Light

"Heavenly Light"
Morning light illuminates the trees at the Missionary Baptist Church in Cades Cove. 
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
© 2014 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved
This was the featured image on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Facebook page this morning. It's the perfect image for a Sunday morning, especially on Memorial Day weekend when we remember the lives of those lost in the service of our country. This weekend many of us also choose to remember the lives of family and friends that have passed on. And so the illuminating rays of sunlight over the Missionary Baptist Church in Cades Cove speak to each of us and to those no longer with us. It's not hard to feel the spirit and the peace portrayed.

This morning my friend, Bryan Nowak, noted that the sunlight looked like heavenly beams. I smiled knowing I had titled this image "Heavenly Light" shortly after the photograph was taken last June. The name is inspired by a sacred choral postlude I was introduced to by my nephew, Chris Plaas, who sings with a men's chorus called Brethren. The hymn, featured on the Brethren's CD Prayers and Praises, was written by the 19th century Russian composer, Alexander Kopylov. The rich harmonies, characteristic of Russian Orthodox hymnody, emphasize moving alto and tenor lines in the soaring melody. The music alone gives me goosebumps, but the translated English text speaks to my soul:

Heavenly Light

Sent from heaven, thy rays were given on great and small to shine. 
O light Divine! 
May each soul in sorrow's night see the heavenly light! 
Thou blessing to all creation, lead us to our salvation! 
All those whose feet may falter, lead unto the sacred altar! 
Oh shine from above, Divine Light of love! 
Show us the way unto our God, we pray! 
Thou our beacon and guide shalt be!
Light Divine, we praise Thee!

As one whose feet have faltered often this past year, I am grateful to know who my unfailing beacon is. I'm grateful for the Heavenly Light that guides my path and for caring friends that continue to encourage me along the way. I'm also grateful for inspiring music that fills the hollow places in my soul and helps me keep the faith. Please enjoy this performance of the "Heavenly Light" by the University of Utah Singers. Turn the volume up!


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