Tag Archives: Don Francisco

Seeing with my ears

It’s mid-week at Jackson’s Journal, time for Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting, a memoir-in-progress of my life’s spiritual journey.

Galileo Galilei and Leonardo DaVinci saw the abstract. Their minds and eyes saw three- and even four-dimensionally. I look at a house and I see the walls, the roof, the doors. Good old Leo looked at a house and saw those, too, but the walls, roof and doors was a transparent skin. Just look at his sketches. Same for Galileo. They both saw the studs, framing, cross beams – I can’t even think of all the segments and details that carpenters and architects design and build.

But G. Leo and Leo D. saw the design, each detail and processed the image in both the abstract and the concrete.

I so envy people who have that ability. I worked some years ago (briefly) as a surveyor’s apprentice. First of all, the guy was a math whiz, measured the azimuth of angles and saw much of the physical world with a Galileo/DaVinci mind.

So where’s all this going?

I’ve been gifted with the ability to hear – even smell – three-dimensionally. Yeah, I said “smell.” I can’t explain it, but many smells come to me as multiple parts, perhaps molecules, but aromas and odors also trigger vivid memories. One of my most annoying habits (if you’d ask Kelly) is that I often smell my food. I don’t just mean sniffing the air or taking a deep breath to draw in the fragrance of life around me. I mean slicing a piece of meat or digging a fork into green beans, lifting the morsel to my snout and smelling. Not every bite, not every morsel, but often enough that it borders on weird. It’s hard to explain.

My hearing, which Kelly claims is deficient when discerning the spoken human voice, is multi-dimensional. I hear harmonies all around. A couple of mornings  ago a redbird in the backyard was confidently singing and a trash truck a couple of blocks away must have been backing up, based on the “beep, beep” that sounded a perfect G to the redbird’s C. Without thinking, I found myself humming the E and then the low C.

A “C” chord.

Our youngest, Natasha, has this same gift. (Maybe part curse and blessing. It keeps my head full and occupied). Natasha and I often harmonize with very random sounds: the hum of a moving elevator, the “ding” of the elevator when it reaches the desired floor, just about anything mechanical. The weird thing is that we’ll add the appropriate notes simultaneously, without cue.

I don’t just hear a note or a sound. I hear a symphony. But I’m not equally gifted with the ability to put those sounds on paper.

You’re still asking, “Where’s all this going?”

In my earliest memories of sacred hymns, prayer meeting music (which was often a cappella) and instrumental music, I can’t remember not hearing and “seeing” every note and chord with my ears. Dad had a deep, resonating bass voice and incredible range. Mom had an operatic soprano voice. I think I was 9 or 10 and singing either bass or tenor (sometimes alto) without knowing it.

It’s what I hear. It’s really pretty cool.

I’ll bet Galileo and DaVinci would have envied me.

Here’s our Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting music. This is the Gaither Vocal Band, featuring David Phelps, singing “Worthy Is Your Name.”

A string quarter provides accompaniment. Very sweet. If you’re familiar with David Phelps, you’ll wonder – as I did – why he’s is such a low register. But keep listening.

I dare you not to stand or raise a hand to heaven at the 2:58 mark. Dude goes an octave higher. Very sweet.

I love searching YouTube for performances of my favorite hymns. I seem to always find a hidden gem. I’ve never heard of The Hastings College Choir and I’m stunned this video has barely over 13,000 views.

Beneath the Cross of Jesus features impeccable harmony and you’ll appreciate this performance even more if you’re a stickler for technical elements. You’ve just got to listen.

Finally, no harmony here, just a simple singer, Don Francisco, and simple lyrics. The selected photos are perfect. Make sure you’re volume is up. Prepare your heart for conviction.

Steeple Song is one of the most unique songs you’ll hear.


Filed under Kelly, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, Old Time Religion

Countdown to Kianna: Lullabye

Countdown to Kianna: 38, 37, 36 days …

I got fired from my job as editor of my hometown newspaper, The Belle Banner, just a few days after Kishia was born in 1985. It was a blessing in disguise, though, because a week before she turned 2-months-old, the Gasconade County Republican in Owensville hired me as sports editor. I quit college before earning a degree, but the education I got in seven years at The Republican was phenomenal.

Kelly was a stay-at-home mom for a couple of years and Kishia was the center of our universe. This morning when Kishia stopped by to print off an online gift certificate for a baby shower she was headed to, I kissed the top of her head. I didn’t linger, so my tears didn’t fall on her hair. But that scent and the obvious sign of her being eight months pregnant simply flooded my entire being with emotion.

My little girl, my first-born, just a few weeks (maybe days?) away from delivering her first-born, her little girl: Kianna. Our first grandchild. I honestly don’t think about anything else right now.

And I think back to the evenings when I came home from The Republican, sometimes to leave again to go cover a football, basketball or volleyball game. I always tried to get bath-time duties to sign with, wash and talk to beautiful little Kishia. She grew up fast — way too fast — and was 6 months old when our little dog, Buffy, playfully nipped her. Kishia was astonished and announced, “Buppy bit me.”

Talking at 6 months old. And she never crawled. In fact, her first steps, at 9 months, were more like first sprints. She was a fun, fun and expressive baby/toddler.

My play time and dad time was in the evening, with bath time, more play time and a wonderful bedtime ritual that had locks of rocking in the Bentwood rocker, reading (very fond of Dr. Seuss) and then lights out and our song. Sometimes there were deviations in the bedtime ritual — maybe a different book, and eventually a bedside prayer — but the song was the same. Always.

Don Francisco’s “Lullabye.” Don Francisco’s music is probably not at the top of the list for most people, but it has resonated in my heart and lifted my spirit for years. He takes Bible stories — many of them obscure or certainly not as popular as most — and turns them into ballads that can pierce or comfort the coldest of hearts. His songs are arrows of grace that are real, not preachy.

“Lullabye” is short and simple, and something even a toddler can sing. Here are the lyrics.

(You Tube audio here: http://youtu.be/238jV2AzWxM)

Lullabye, by Don Francisco …

Darkness covers all the land — sounds of day are gone;
But love is all around you now and will be ’till the dawn.

Stars shine on the window sill, the moon shines through the trees;
Angels by your bed tonight — shine where no one sees.

So there’s no need to be afraid — all the whole night through.
‘Cause God has made a promise child, that He’ll take care of you.

Stars shine on the window sill, the moon shines through the trees;
Angels by your bed tonight — shine where no one sees.

All that you’ve been dreamin’ of — awaits you when you rise;
So with the peace that Jesus brings — close your sleepy eyes.

Stars shine on the window sill, the moon shines through the trees;
Angels by your bed tonight — shine where no one sees.

All that you’ve been dreamin’ of — awaits you when you rise;
So with the peace that Jesus brings — close your sleepy eyes.

There you have it.

If I live a thousand years I’ll never forget the best way for that song to end: Before the final line began, with the house full of peace and quiet, Kishia raised her head from my chest and looked into my eyes, her bed-time breath the sweetest scent ever created. And we’d sing the final line — maybe in total darkness, maybe with star light on our faces — and look into each others’ eyes.

“So with the peace that Jesus brings, close your sleepy eyes.” Before the final note disappeared into the night, Kishia added, “Love you Daddy,” still looking into my eyes.

I’d ask you to pardon my tears right now, but I think you understand a little better now.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #3:

If I ever manage to wrestle you out of your mom and dad’s arms, I’ll do my best to send you off to sleep with “Lullabye.” Maybe you’ll learn it, too?

In the meantime, I’ll change the words just a bit, and it won’t rhyme, but here goes, my sweet Kianna:

“All that you are dreamin’ of … awaits you when you’re born;
So with the peace that Jesus brings … close your sleepy eyes.”


Filed under A reporter's life, Kianna Allene Brown