I’m an atmospheric person- so I’ve always said to myself. I was in my early twenties when I first really read- I mean absorbed- The Lord of the Rings. I’d loved reading fantasies since I was ten and began Narnia. When I was a child; the youngest of four; my mommy was a working mom and I had large tracts of time by myself. The backyard tree became my jungle. Pictures in art books that my mommy had on dusty shelves in the old shaker bookshelf made me disappear into faded landscapes. I think, in my lifelong drive to wander in those imaginary fields of wonder, I won’t be satisfied until I dance in the endless acres of Heaven.
And so the language of the Lord of the Rings was expansive to me. Elvish homes and golden tree flets and hobbit holes.
Around the same time I was falling in love with Middle Earth, I was also listening to the Christian classics. Keith Green (of course), Amy Grant and Randy Stonehill. At the time I considered Keith Green’s recording of ‘Your Love Broke Through’ to sort of be my signature song. It was about a ‘dreamer’ trying to build a ‘highway to the sky’. Phil Keagy recorded the song too. ‘Cool’, I thought, since it was just a little past the seventies.
So there I was, immersed in The Lord of the Rings and buying Randy Stonehill albums. One day I discovered that he’d recorded a version of ‘Your Love Broke Through’ as well! His version was kind of upbeat, bouncy and came off as joyful. It had the same lyrics as Keith’s. Except for one thing, in his version there was an added verse.
‘There is nothing in the whole wide world that means this much to me; In Your love, I have found the truth, and truth has set me free; Yeah, now I’m feeling like a barefoot child dancin’ in the sun; Unafraid, I can face each day, because of all You’ve done; Now my life has just begun!’
My mind synced forever that bit of song with this section of the Fellowship of the Ring. In the book the hobbits have set off from Hobbiton and have encountered danger already. They haven’t even left the Shire- and yet they’ve also had a campout with a group of elves the night before. Oh, the wonderful writing of Tolkien. I was hooked.
‘From Frodo’s mind the bright morning — treacherously bright, he thought — had not banished the fear of pursuit; and he pondered the words of Gildor (the elf). The merry voice of Pippin came to him. He was running on the green turf and singing.
‘No! I could not!’ he said to himself. ‘It is one thing to take my young friends walking over the Shire with me, until we are hungry and weary, and food and bed are sweet. To take them into exile, where hunger and weariness may have no cure, is quite another — even if they are willing to come. The inheritance is mine alone. I don’t think I ought even to take Sam.’ He looked at Sam Gamgee, and discovered that Sam was watching him.
‘Well, Sam!’ he said. ‘What about it? I am leaving the Shire as soon as ever I can — in fact I have made up my mind now not even to wait a day at Crickhollow, if it can be helped.’
‘Very good, sir!’
‘You still mean to come with me?’
‘It is going to be very dangerous, Sam. It is already dangerous. Most likely neither of us will come back.’
‘If you don’t come back, sir, then I shan’t, that’s certain,’ said Sam. ‘Don’t you leave him! they said to me. Leave him! I said. I never mean to. I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon, and if any of those Black Riders try to stop him, they’ll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with, I said. They laughed.’
‘Who are they, and what are you talking about?’
‘The Elves, sir. We had some talk last night; and they seemed to know you were going away, so I didn’t see the use of denying it. Wonderful folk, Elves, sir! Wonderful!’
Ha ha. Pippin/Vicky running about on the grass- oblivious to what lies ahead. (Note how much thinner I am in above picture!) Dreaming and singing of Heaven. His love has broken through my fears like sunshine on the lawn.
Here’s the Randy Stonehill version. Note the yellow electric ’80’s coat.