A song of transformation by Dinah Darby

Do you like Desert Islands Disks? I do, but don’t listen to them often enough, but I would like to recommend this particular one to you - ‘Your Desert Island Discs’ broadcast on 5 June. It is a special one where people share a piece of music that helped them through the period of time when COVID-19 was at its height. I only managed the first 15 minutes; it was very emotional! The reason I specifically listened to this one was because the second guest, Hugh Mullally, raised money for the charity I work for by running the Bath Half in 2019. He shares his amazing near-death experience from COVID-19, thanking the Doctors and Nurses at the RUH for saving his life – such a moving story, as you can imagine, and so fantastic that he survived. However, my thoughts keep returning to the first story of the programme.

Jane Moss, who works at the Royal Free Hospital in London, looking after patient safety told her COVID-19 story - when the emotional toil was really at its height. The Director of Nursing asked Jane to bring in her guitar to get everyone singing and to brighten up the end of their team meetings. It worked well - everyone responded and went back to the wards with a smile on their faces and feeling brighter. One day the Director asked her if she could play ‘Amazing Grace’. At first Jane wasn’t sure, feeling that it was quite a sombre piece but then she realised what a beautiful song it was. She explains: As they sang it, something happened, I’m not entirely sure what it was, but people really connected with the song; ultimately, it’s a song around a transformation and a different way of thinking and striving to do the right thing and the best thing. You get the sense that this is a really healing song and one that’s been around for hundreds of years. They sing this in beautiful harmony…

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home…

Of course she’s right, this song has been around for hundreds of years. It was written in 1772 by John Newton who had been a slave trader living a far from honorable life. During a raging storm at sea on a slave ship, with little hope of survival, he turned to Christ and later in his life wrote this song thanking God for saving him.

I don’t know why Jane’s boss asked her to play this song; but I am pretty sure I know why it moved them the way it did. The words are unmistakable, and I believe Jane and her team felt the sense of God’s healing. He uses many ways to speak to us and it is through His Grace that His Spirit works in all sorts of ways; keep listening and you can hear Him too.

Desert Island Discs:

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