The Goose Family Returns

Gilbert and Gloria Goose on Whispering Pond
Gilbert and Gloria Goose on Whispering Pond

Gregory and Grace, Gilbert and Gloria flew back to our pond last week. I was so happy to see them. It’s an early sign of spring. But it’s also just fun to see our old friends again. I took a few pictures to be able to spread the news that they’re back.

I asked Gloria why they returned so early this year. There’s still ice on the pond. She said, “We wanted to get back in time to be here for Lent.  The Whispering Pond is such a peaceful place to be.”

Gilbert piped in, “I know it’s a little early, but we wanted to be sure to be here in time for the Hymn Sing at Whispering Winds on Sunday afternoon, March 18. Most people don’t think of geese as songbirds, but we really like to sing. We don’t have any sopranos. You need robins and finches for the high notes. But we’ve got lots of strong baritones. Once we catch our breath from our long flight up here, we’re going to start practicing.”

Gregory and Grace Goose approach pond
Gregory and Grace Goose approach pond

Gregory and Grace ambled over to join the conversation. “You know,” Grace said, “most people and even some birds don’t know that the most beautiful music in the world is the music that’s usually sung during Lent. It’s mostly about love.”

Gregory, who prides himself on being the most educated goose in the northern hemisphere, said, “It’s not just romantic love, it’s about God’s love for us and our love for God. Most scholars consider the hymn, ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ to be the greatest hymn in the English language. Next time you sing it, pay close attention to the words. The hymn was considered scandalous when it was written in 1707 because it was so personal.”

“I especially like the last verse,” said Grace.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

“I agree that Isaac Watts wrote a mighty fine hymn 300 years ago,” said Gilbert, “but my favorites are the spirituals. They’re just so much fun to sing. ‘Were You There?’ is probably the most popular spiritual sung during Lent, but my personal favorite is ‘I Want Jesus to Walk with Me,’ only I would change ‘walk’ to ‘fly.’ Actually, I sing that song a lot, any time of the year.  I like all three verses of this song, but the one I sing the most is the third.”

Gilbert walking alone
Gilbert walking alone

When I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me;
When I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me;
When my head is bowed in sorrow,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.

“That’s what I sing when we’re flying into strong headwinds, or when we lose one of our flock. How about you, Gloria? What are your favorite songs to sing during Lent?”

“Oh, I have so many favorites. One of them is ‘Near to the Heart of God.’ I just feel so comforted by God whenever I hear that song. You know, it was written – both the music and words – by Cleland McAfee for his brother and sister-in-law when their two daughters died from diphtheria within 24 hours of each other in 1901.  Listen to the words of the second verse and refrain.”

Whispering Pond - Whispering Winds in background
Whispering Pond – Whispering Winds in background

There is a place of comfort sweet,
near to the heart of God;
a place where we our Savior meet,
near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
sent from the heart of God;
hold us who wait before thee
near to the heart of God.

Gregory jumped into the conversation again. “But don’t forget the classic, ‘O Sacred Head Now Wounded.’ That was written almost a thousand years ago by a monk.  Then think about what Bach did to it by providing that amazing harmony. But back to the words, it’s a sad song, but also a love song. Listen to the words of the third verse.” Gregory sang the verse.

Gregory Singing
Gregory Singing

What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever; and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.

Everyone was silent for a moment. Then Gregory added, “I especially love the first and last lines.”

Grace said, “There are so many songs about God’s wonderful love for us and our love for God. I really like to sing Stainer’s ‘God So Loved the World,’ and ‘Beautiful Savior,’ and ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, and … “

Gloria chimed in, “and ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘The Love of God.’ One nice thing about the music we sing during Lent is that we can sing most of it any time of the year. It’s not like Christmas carols that we can only sing in December.”

“Talking about all these songs makes me want to sing,” honked Gilbert. “Let’s start practicing for that hymn sing right now.”

As they started to sing, I walked back into my office, but I left the patio door open. I think I’ll be hearing lots of songs in four-part harmony – like a gospel quartet – over the next few weeks. Maybe I’ll hum along with them when they’re practicing on the pond or flying overhead.

Geese returning to Whispering Pond
Geese returning to Whispering Pond

4 responses to “The Goose Family Returns”

  1. I love geese – their faithfulness is so wonderful. I enjoyed hearing about their favorite hymns. I just updated my list after my sister’s memorial, and my list is a little different. I wonder what Grace and Gloria would think of my list! I have to admit they probably sing better than I.


  3. Very much worth repeating!! Virtual hugs!

    1. Good to hear from you again Laura. Hope you and Steve are doing well and are looking forward to Easter and spring.


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