A Song For Lattendales


"May the doors of my house be open,
And its rooms filled with tenderness.
May love be the key -
And joy shine, and joy shine, and joy shine
From its windows.
May infinite peace protect it,
And sacredness dwell within!"

The words above are based on a prayer I encountered at Lattendales in the summer. I started to sing them at the time, but the music for the last two lines eluded me.

Coming to Lattendales later in the year, this time to offer a Residency, involving the sharing of a song a day - a 'Musical Offering' - I was struck by a number of issues and problems connected with the house and the running of it.

During my last week, one of the trustees who was staying for a few days asked me if I could sing something 'for the house'. The song I chose was felt to be appropriate, although it did not have this specific purpose. Indeed, I was not aware at the time that I knew such a song.

Then, three days later, when working on the songbook which I was preparing during the residency, I came across this as yet uncompleted song.

Suddenly, it had a whole new meaning. I found myself impelled to sing it there and then - before breakfast. As I sang it, my heart full of the inner knowledge of what a song such as this could bring to the centre, its staff and trustees, and all who visit it, the song became complete: finally, I had found the music for the last two lines:

Illustrationed version of May the Doors of my House by Rachel Healey

" May infinite peace protect it,
And sacredness dwell within "

I was filled with an indescribable sense of wonder that, on the penultimate day of my residency, such an extra-ordinary completion, together with such a potential beginning, could be set in train .

The following evening - my final evening - four new residents joined me for a final 'Musical Offering'. I told them about this song, and its history and dual purpose - as a song for the inner self, as well as for the house. They were all in agreement this is the song that should be sung that evening.

After its first 'outing' that evening, there was a sense of the song being 'held' in the long silence that followed. It was finally interrupted with the words of one of the residents:

"Please will you sing it again?"

I did so, and this time some of them felt able to join in a bit towards the end. After which, one of them (aged 93) immediately went over to the piano and started to play it, together with appropriate harmonies.

The next morning, as my last 'public' act as part of the residency, I shared the song after Quiet Time, together with Ineka, the centre manager, and those residents .

The full circle was complete and at the same time a seed of new growth sown.

The possibilities for this new song are awesome, watch this space for what happens next!

JR 30.11.05