Thursday, February 02, 2006

better in the spring

Julia gave me an Innocence Mission CD for Christmas. Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry for the group.

I'm fond of all the songs on the CD. Listening to it in the car last evening, driving back from Towson, having brought her some stuff and retrieved some as well, I was particularly struck by the lyrics to "One for sorrow, Two for joy."

Here's part:
Today is a winter sunday
we wear our heavy coats
the soul of my brother
is pure, though he does not think so

and everything is going to be much better in the spring
Though this winter has been a mild one, and though spring means pollen allergies for me, I fell in love with that prediction -- "everything is going to be much better in the spring" -- faith, optimisim, a fond wish, a grounding for hope....

I didn't know it then, but -- it turns out -- "one for sorrow, two for joy" is a crow counting rhyme. It goes:
One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret
Never to be told.
That's meaningful for me because I've enjoyed the companionship of crows and mourned their departure. (Where did they go? Were they victims of the West Nile Virus?) I especially looked forward to crows that crowded a section of my morning commute through Rock Creek Park in the spring, spring that, for me, was better for their presence.

Here are some variants:
One crow sorrow,
Two crows joy,
Three crows a letter,
Four crows a boy.

One for sorrow
Two for mirth
Three for a wedding
Four for a birth
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven of a secret not to be told
Eight for heaven
Nine for hell
And ten for the devil's own self.

One for sorrow
Two for mirth
Three for a wedding
Four for birth
Five for rich
Six for poor
Seven for a witch
I can tell you no more.
From SurLaLune fairy tale pages, discussion list


A note on crows and West Nile Virus. This is a good page on the birds and the threat: The Revered, Reviled Crow Clan.

An afterthought: Of the song, a reviewer says: “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy” laments a familial separation, the kind in which a lack of faith distances sister from brother. “Everything is going to be much better in the spring,” she assures her faltering sibling, and you wonder if she trying to encourage herself as well. Just as she does for us and for herself so frequently, she directs our attention to nature, to the signposts of God: “What is coming down from the north road / What is coming up from the ground?” In offering this song, she reminds us that the faithful bear the burdens of those who do not embrace the hope offered them.

1 comment:

julia said...

That's one of Rachel and my favorite Innocence Mission songs because we both relate strongly to the message of sister shyly relating to her brother. I put it on the mix I gave Nick and told him that song reminded me of him, but I'm not sure he remembers which one I was pointing to.