May 29, 2020, 12:25:05 PM5/29/20
I am fascinated by song stories...the glimpses of composers' lives that their creations permit us to see, although oftentimes not so readily. Here are my my "scoops", posted here for your enjoyment, and for what I hope will feed our mutual curiosity about His musical purposes for us. Join me in this history adventure, as we find what circumstances coalesced to create the songs we all love! Play detective with me, and tell me what song "scoops" you may know that I don't...yet.
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Sunday, November 3, 2013
You Are My Hiding Place -- Michael Ledner
Michael Ledner felt really vulnerable as he reflected on his circumstances one day in 1980. He couldn’t ignore how he felt, though he was a firm believer in the One to whom he turned as he sat on a bed with a guitar and his bible close by. “You Are My Hiding Place”, he called out to God, using the words of David, his ancient spiritual compatriot who likewise sought Him who can reassure the lonely. He wasn’t completely certain he wanted to dwell in this place, however, or if he wanted to share with others the feelings the song evoked. It was a private moment. It took his travelling halfway around the globe to discover others needed to link with that intimacy, to rest in the comfort He offers.
Up and out of the pit came Michael Ledner, from a low moment into a broader appreciation for His God and the life he began to experience after this difficult period. Ledner was separated from his wife at the time and living in a tiny room in Arizona, so small that it must have been easy for him to feel isolated and forgotten. But, he clung to something – or rather, someone -- one day as he read Psalms and strummed his guitar. King David’s Psalms 32 (one of the ‘maskil’ Psalms) and 56 provided the inspiration that Michael needed, as he pondered and worshipped alone, but not without purpose. He’d often turned to music, not unlike his predecessor whose words struck him and provided the prose Michael used to vocalize his own hiding place, some three millennia later. (David sometimes sought physical refuge in a cave, not too unlike the manmade one shown here, along a coastal area in Israel.)
But, as he reflected for some time afterwards, he wondered how wise it would be to share his feelings. Was he being a weakling? He recorded the song for himself a couple of different times, including once with a few friends, but he didn’t really share it otherwise in churches he visited for a while. It was still a difficult part of his life, as his marriage finally and permanently dissolved. Many months later, he was in David’s homeland, and again he shared the song with some visiting friends. Unbeknownst to him initially, they took the song back home, where it found wide acceptance; a formal recording by Maranatha Music soon ensued. From a private, difficult moment, to another where his experience found broad camaraderie with other believers, this was a sweet turnaround for Ledner. It was his renewal moment, and his life progressed positively after that. Many years later, he’d become a pastor and was married again, feeling as though he’d learned a valuable lesson from the day he sat in a small room with his guitar, bible, and feelings he didn’t want at the time.
Don’t run away, or try to ignore the pain – that perhaps best sums up what Michael Ledner discovered from a challenging episode in his late 20’s. He wasn’t alone after all. There’s no place to hide, but there is a person who can hide me. Seems kinda strange to realize this, until you understand, as Ledner probably did, that hiding in a place only makes you lonely. Hiding in a person is radically different.
Sources for the song story are the books “Celebrate Jesus: The Stories behind Your Favorite Praise and Worship Songs”, by Phil Christensen and Shari MacDonald, Kregel Publications, 2003; and “The Complete Book of Hymns – Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs”, by William J. and Ardythe Petersen, 2006.
Posted by David Cain at 10:38 AM
Labels: audience-God, era-1900s, Ledner, loneliness, maskil, Psalms, turning point, weakness