"That's my favorite folk choir song!"
by Katie Hunter ('04)
The first time I really heard “Lead, Kindly Light” was at the anniversary memorial for September 11 this past fall. Everyone gathered at the Grotto at dusk, and a priest spoke words I don’t remember. We were all given candles, and then, as they were lit, the choir began to sing. It was small at first, the reserved hush that the place and the song inspire, swelling “on through the night.” The light of a single candle spread through the crowd, as though the light of those already lit in the Grotto was expanding to encompass us all, the light of a million prayers binding us together. My heart was heavy with a weight I hadn’t even known I was carrying, a year of grief that I thought I had worked through. I tried to sing, but the knot in my throat wouldn’t let the sound past. Here I was, twenty years old and all I wanted was to be at home with my parents, just as I had wanted to be at home a year before. And then the first verse spoke to me:
“The night is dark, and I am far from home. Direct my feet, I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step, enough for me. So lead me onward, Lord, and hear my plea.”
In those lines was everything my heart wanted to say, had wanted to say but had not possessed the words to articulate. I wanted to stop trying to be strong, to stop attempting to carry the burden myself, and when a clear voice rose with those words, something inside me gave way. I started to cry, and they were tears of healing rather than sadness. I cried for about ten minutes, and then my candle was lit, and the crowd began to process out of the Grotto, heading toward the reflecting pool in front of the library where we were to celebrate Mass. With each step that I took, my way illuminated by the light of the candles, my steps were lighter, and my breathing easier. I had finally let go of the guilt of impotence, of not having lost anyone and being happy about it, of being afraid but not telling anyone. Everything that had weighed me down had been take from me. My cross had been lifted from my shoulders because I had finally accepted that I could not bear it alone. Before that night, I was familiar with the song. That night, I truly heard it, and it healed my wounds.
by Lindsey Horvath ('04)
On top of being one of the most enjoyable songs for me to sing, "I Will Run the Race" is a song that speaks across generations and cultures to carry the message of life.
It speaks about enduring life's struggles to earn a place in God's Heavenly Kingdom with Christ. It asks God for the strength needed to endure all of life's trials, from daily struggles to global conflicts, and to keep Christ in our vision throughout everything we do. The message — that great things come from even the most difficult of situations — is one of hope and fulfillment. It is the light that Christ shines on the dark spots in our lives, and it is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our everyday actions.