“You may have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.”
The music from an old CD now wings me across the skies and back to the years we lived in the interior of the State of São Paulo. When I write “we” I refer to Doris and myself, our baby Monica and our son Vernon who was born there. What is the power of this music that takes me back to the fields of coffee? What is this music that transports me to where we raised of our children and did our work as missionaries?
This music I hear is known as caipira music—the folk music of the people who have suffered and loved as they worked to make Brazil what it is today. The dictionary announces that caipira means hillbilly. But it is nothing of the sort for you’ll never hear an accordion, guitars and other instruments played with more skill anywhere in this world. The CD features a men’s duet with a tenor leading the smooth harmony. These ballads are fashioned and sung by the people in all of Brazil’s interior and speak of life’s romances and heartaches. Folk music best describe it.
Yes, this CD has to do with romance and young love. But it is so different from the love now sung in popular music. At that time in Brazil romancing was done over the gate at the front of the girl’s house. Anything more than that and a chaperone went along. One song title is: “As time goes by, I love you more.” Others: “The simplest word is, I love you,” and “A wounded heart.”Tacking up a sign over a hall where we planned to have services–and sing.
So why does this move me so deeply? Just this—these are the people our family lived with and loved. As I listen I blink to keep the pieces or our past lives there from speaking through my eyes. I see the maid that we trusted, she who took our blond baby girl across the fields to visit her family. I see Guilherme who owned a rice cleaning business and who after he gave his heart to Jesus wondered if he could stay in business without a little cheating. I see a couple from a coffee farm who with a large family lived in poverty. They wished to be baptized. The folks from our small congregation raised the money for their civil wedding. That paper was necessary their witness to faith in the stream, Barra Dourada.
But the deep moving saudades, the nostalgia from those days are embedded most deeply in a book, Cantor Cristão. It is the little hymnal that we sang from in our congregations and from which our quartet sang. A quartet? We were Murdo and Isabel Campbell with Doris and I. Those were times full of God’s grace. In my mind I hear the harmony of the music and the Gospel message embedded in those songs. They built our own faith and those of the congregation. Some of those songs I cannot sing for they move me too deeply. Memories! The Campbells were older than us and were in some way supportive parents.
On the inside of the cover of my Cantor Cristão are the numbers of hymns sung at different services but at the top is the note, “bells.” That certainly meant that Doris played the cow bells for a service. On the back flyleaf is a note in Doris’ handwriting that no doubt she showed me during the service, “Visitors to sign the guest book at the door.” In Doris’ Cantor in her handwriting is a translation into Portuguese of “The Old Rugged Cross” and on another flyleaf “The Garden of Prayer.” And yet on another leaf in English this time are the words of the song, “Go ye into all the world.” Yes, we were there doing our best to obey the Lord’s command.Luiz Roberto heard the Gospel music as a child at a hall and now sings across churches and denominations.
One gospel song we sang as a quartet is Christo te Chama—we know it as, “Calling To-day.” One verse is, “Jesus is calling the weary to rest, calling to-day, calling to-day. Bring him thy burden and thou shalt be blessed, he will not turn thee away.” What a wonderful comfort to all followers of Jesus.