Nine years had passed since the king had issued the decree. Some thought that he might relent over time, but he had not. Silence hung over the kingdom like the very shroud placed over his dear queen on that day long ago. Silence was the king's bitter respite. Even the child born from his precious wife’s deathbed had given him no consolation; so, the decree remained.
“Henceforth, no music of any kind shall be allowed in the kingdom” was the essence of the decree. No instruments were to be played; no bells tolled, no songs or hymns sung. Everyone knew why. The queen had been one of the most accomplished musicians throughout the land. Some said that God had blessed the kingdom with harmony because of her angelic voice. Many a day when the king was distraught or anxious, she would sing to him. Her melodious tones were a soothing balm to his spirit.
When death silenced her voice, he silenced the kingdom. Succumbing to the torment of deep grief and depression, he decreed all to suffer with him, even his daughter. He knew it wasn’t fair to blame the child, but he banished her as he had the music; he would allow nothing to pierce this self-imposed prison wall. The banishment and deprivation of music would not be all she would suffer, for she had been born blind as well.
Exiled to the farthest reaches of the palace, she was nurtured by the king’s sister, who had been given strict orders to follow the king’s decree. No lullabies or musical games allowed; even the trilling of laughter would be frowned upon if the king caught wind of it. So, the child had contented herself these nine years with memorizing her surroundings by touch, learning scripture verses and bonding with her caretaker.
One day when the aunt was out, the girl made her way to a window and, climbing up, opened it to feel the wind on her face. Then, she heard it - a most glorious sound! Her heart quickened. Again it came, and this time she voiced back the music she heard.
“What are you doing?” came a startled voice.
“I’m making the noise that I heard, dear aunt. What is it? It’s beautiful!”
Trembling at the sweet sound she heard, the aunt lifted her down.
“That was a bird singing, but you must never sing. Your father has decreed there be no music.”
“Then, I must go to my father and tell him about the bird. Surely when he hears, he will see how wonderful music is and change the decree.”
But, the child was not allowed to go to her father; yet, she treasured the bird‘s music in her heart and vowed to hear it again.
One day she begged her aunt to take her for a walk in the garden, and, thinking it to be of no great harm, it became a daily event. Each visit was ecstasy for the girl. The musky smell of rose, the velvet touch of blossom, dewy grass under her bare feet, but best of all were the wonderful birdsongs. She danced and sang, imitating their warbling, adding words to the melodies. The garden was filled with God’s music and hers.
She ran to her aunt to hug her, thanking her for showing her the garden.
Tears spilled down her cheeks.
“Don’t cry, aunt. Be happy!”
“I am, dear child, you have brought music back to us!”
“Who speaks of music in my kingdom? It is banned by my decree!”
The king’s voice boomed across the garden.
“I. . .I speak of music, your majesty.” The daughter bowed low before him.
The king was struck by the child’s beauty and the soothing tone of her voice – a soft, melodic familiar sound that stirred his heart, bringing not pain, but warmth and comfort.
“My king,” she continued, “how can you forbid the birds to sing, or harness the sound of a breeze in the trees? Can you stop the brook from singing as it rushes over the stones or keep the thunder from roaring or prevent a bee from buzzing in your ear? Oh, king, dear father, there is a Great God and King whose music you cannot forbid nor contain with any silent decree. I beg you to restore music to the kingdom.”
And, so it was. The king’s eyes and heart were opened through the voice of his child. Music was restored and harmony returned to the kingdom.
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