My mama told me something when I was growing up that has for ever change my life. She played the piano at our little church at third and pine street for thirty seven years. She tried to teach me to play the piano, but I wasn’t very good. She would teach me the names of the notes, what a major key is, what a minor key is.  She tried to teach me musical theory but I was just bored.

Then one day she told me that the best news in the world is found by playing a simple scale on the piano. I had no idea what she meant. So she told me, “Play an eight note scale.” So I did. (Playing notes going up the scale C D E F G A B C sounds like “do re me fa sol la si do”)

I said, “How is that good news?”

She said I played it incorrectly and that I needed to play it the other way. So I did. (Playing notes going down the scale “do si la sol fa mi re do.”)

Again, I said, “How is that good news?”

She said that I played it the right way, but I needed to add the pauses.

“The pauses?”

“The pauses. Add them on the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh and last note.”

Now I was frustrated and said, “How can eight notes with random pauses be the best news in the world?” Then I got up, walked away and went outside.  Frankly I didn’t care what she was talking about.  I didn’t like playing the piano anyway.

Well, years later my mama got sick and passed away.  As I was thinking about her I remembered what she told me about the piano.

Not only that, I still remembered the notes she told me to pause on : the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh and last note. So I sat down at her piano and played the scale with the pauses. (With pauses plays the song “Joy to the World, the Lord is come.”)

And that’s when I realized the good news she was talking about.

Source | Transcript of The Christmas Scale by


The message hasn’t changed. That joy is still there waiting to be experienced each time we awake from our slumber and play the right notes with the right pauses, living our ordinary lives in extraordinary ways, that is, with gentility and grace, presence and wakefulness.


Author: philipchircop

I'm a Jesuit from Malta, an artist at heart and madly in love with all things beautiful and soulful: music, painting, sculpture, photography, film, theatre, poetry, good company, good food, good wine and more. I believe that beauty is a wonderful entry into the mystery of the God “whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” God can be sensed in all things if and when we engage in a long, loving look at the real that surrounds us. I consider myself a seeker with bottomless curiosity, an eternal student of life, exploring fresh and creative ways to proclaim the Good News in the hope of helping fellow pilgrims and seekers to embrace real and radical changes that will lead to conversion and transformation.

One thought on “THE CHRISTMAS SCALE”

  1. The minister shared this in his church service Christmas morning stating his grandmother wanted him to learn the paino & advised him the true meaning of xmas was found in the piano…needless to say ge held the congregation attention & got the ooohs & aaahs & wonders of third attempt at the piano keys.
    Thank you for your peice I went seeking what count position the pauses were 2b held.
    Merry Christmas & blessed New Year too you.


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