In Philippians 4:8, Paul tells us to let our minds dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute” along with “any excellence and . . . anything worthy of praise” (NASB).
In a fallen world, that has never been an easy thing to do, but in our increasingly rude, crude, and lewd culture, finding the good and beautiful amongst the bad and ugly has become an immensely difficult task. This week, however, a Christianity Today article tipped me off to a recent song – a praiseworthy testament to God’s faithfulness – that stands out for its loveliness and beauty.
The song, “Alone Yet Not Alone” – title song for an obscure Christian movie with only a 21-day release, according to Paul Bonds of the Hollywood Reporter – has generated controversy for having been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Original Song category, beating out well-known songs from highly successful movies sung by highly successful singers (think Taylor Swift). The singer of “Alone Yet Not Alone”? Little known (outside of evangelical circles, at least) quadriplegic, Joni Eareckson Tada.
Tada’s singing itself is a testament to God’s faithfulness and is part of what makes the song so poignant. As a quadriplegic, Tada has limited lung capacity and, as Bond writes, needed her husband’s pushing on her diaphragm to help her hit the high notes. By God’s grace – as Tada would no doubt attest – and in answer to her opening prayer, listeners would never know such an effort was required.
To the musically trained, “Alone Yet Not Alone” may not seem like a great song. Even to my untrained ears, the song doesn’t appear highly original either in lyrics or instrumentation. Yet, when paired with scenes from the movie of the same name – a movie that tells the story of two young sisters captured by Indians during the French and Indian war and of the faith that sustained them – it has an undeniable power and grace that has kept me playing it over and over.
Will “Alone Yet Not Alone” win an Academy Award? It’s possible. Sometimes the good does beat out the bad and the ugly (not to say, of course, that the other nominated songs are either of those things). But probably not. Still, it’s the audience and not the award that really matters. Because regardless of whether or not the song captures the Oscar, we can always pray that it captures the imagination of at least a few of those who hear it and that, ultimately, its message captures their hearts.