‘every benediction is thine’
The Benediction was composed in 1909 by Louise Waite, an early American Bahá’í composer with a very special relationship with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who constantly encouraged her efforts and praised her compositions, addressing her lovingly as ‘Shahnáz’ (royal falcon). Many of His recorded words regarding music are taken from letters to Ms. Waite, thus immortalizing her – and her music – in Bahá’í history.
The piece was a hymn, and was sung in a very traditional style which, while beautiful, was definitely of a time – and may explain why it fell out of usage as musical tastes changed through the years. When we read the high praise which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave the song, we couldn’t help but wonder what it might sound like adapted to a rhythmic cadence more suited to modern ears. The hope was that somehow the Benediction would find its way back into community life someday, as He clearly desired.
The following was read in September 2012 as part of a dramatic presentation at the Centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to San Francisco, from the perspective of Ella Goodall Cooper:
‘Abdu’l-Baha loved this song, and He instructed us to sing it everywhere. He said, “Sing this melody in all gatherings…” and, “I ask God that this song may be sung eternally and this melody and anthem become everlasting.” The children especially loved it, and they sang it to the Master when he arrived in the Bay area.
When Louise Waite wrote The Benediction, she felt especially inspired, in fact, she had a vision; “I felt and spiritually saw that blessed white Dove actually hovering over me, pure, white and glistening, and the Spirit of Peace that emanated from it fell in heavenly showers upon me.”
Louise loved ‘Abdu’l-Baha so much that she happily sold her piano, her most prized possession, to pay for her Pilgrimage to meet Him face to face. And the Master had this song translated into different languages so it spread to Baha’i communities around the world.
I wonder what this song will sound like a hundred years from now?”
O God! Resuscitate us;
give us sight; give us hearing;
familiarize us with the mysteries of life,
so that the secrets of Thy kingdom
may become revealed to us in this world of existence
and we may confess Thy oneness.
Every bestowal emanates from Thee;
every benediction is Thine.
Thou art mighty. Thou art powerful.
Thou art the Giver, and Thou art the Ever-Bounteous.
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Photo by Dean Kalyan
Food for the Soul: 19 Days of Music and Devotion is a series of devotional songs from Badasht vol. I & II coupled with inspiring images and quotations from sacred Writings, initially to accompany the Bahá’í Fast from March 2-20. Please use them in your own way, and share with your friends & family.