Life can be hard, and life in a pandemic has proven even more difficult. Yet God is constantly bringing beauty from the ashes, evident in Dana Dirksen’s newly released album, Songbook for the Soul, Volume 1. The album contains twenty-six tracks, each based upon the words of a Psalm.
In one of Dana’s personal favorites, she reminds even the most grown-up “kids”:
Darling, God is your refuge,
God is your strength
Every promise in God holds true.
The lyrics come from the track “Under His Wings,” based on Psalm 91. “We want to sing it over our babies but also just sing it over ourselves - it’s been such a hard two years,” Dana said.
While most of us could use some extra comfort after experiencing life with COVID for so long, Dana recognizes that this entire project “ grew out of being stuck at home.” When the women’s Bible study (called “The River”) at her home church in Oregon moved to meeting remotely in 2020, that also meant that the young children’s group (called “The Creek”) which meets at the same time was no longer able to gather.
As a Creek leader, Dana began writing songs for the children for each Bible study lesson. The study focused on the Psalms and the attributes of God, so the songs include a verse from each Psalm they studied. Dana recorded each song in her home studio, and these videos were posted for families on the church website.
Dana continued to write and record as the weeks turned into months. She began teaching the songs to the children in her small COVID-bubble community group while they hung out next to the chickens in her backyard. In addition to singing, she claims that somewhere there exists “lots of footage of the kids dancing!”
Dana reached out to Nathan Trueb, her long-time guitarist, who began recording the guitar tracks in his home studio. She recruited fellow church member Bridget McMurray to record some vocals, and Dana added childrens’ voices from her community group. All this was shared with her co-producer Patrick Teatrault, who mixed and mastered it in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
Dana says it’s incredible how the album came together even though “everything was done by different people who never met in person!”
The results are lovely, and Dana sweetly recalls singing over her grandchildren while writing “Casting the Shadows,” her very favorite song on the album:
Sleep Darling, close your eyes
Sleep til the sun will rise
Casting the shadows aside
Rest with a childlike faith
Rest in His sovereign grace
Casting the shadows aside.”
While most of us are ready to cast the shadow of COVID aside, it is good to remember God has been casting light into the shadows for all of human history. As we sing these songs over our babies, we can imagine Him singing Truth over us as we, like children, “Rest in His warm embrace.”
Songbook for the Soul is currently available exclusively on Patreon. If you'd like to download the entire album, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter, starting at just $3/month. For just $10/month you will receive a poster of the album artwork, which is an original wall-worthy design by artist Maya Hanisch. These small monthly gifts are critical to being able to provide our music for free around the world. Contribute here.
Speaking of music for free around the world, there’s much to report regarding Questions with Answers:
Questions with Answers in Arabic Volumes 1 and 2 have been released.
Arabic Volumes 3 and 4 have been translated into Arabic to be recorded once Songs for Saplings has enough funding. You can donate here.
Questions with Answers, Volume 1 in Mandarin Chinese is in the works and sounds amazing. There is a lot of excitement around this project!
Mandarin Volume 2 is in the recording phase and you can donate to that project here.
There is a team currently recording Questions with Answers Volume 1 in Swedish, with hopes to be completed in 2022.