When I was very first contemplating starting a blog, I posted a comment on a website I admired asking for advice. The site’s owner, Chelsea, was kind enough to send me a very thoughtful, warm response, and from that has grown a close relationship in which I have come to know Chelsea as a fellow blogger, mother, and a friend. In addition to collaborating on smaller projects, together we created and manage Bahá’í Mom Blogs.
Chelsea is co-creator of the amazing Enable Me To Grow website, a resource on spiritual education for mothers of young children the world over. It is best know for the Radiant Hearts program, and most recently Chelsea and and her husband released an accompanying CD, At First Light. Below, Chelsea shares the inspiration behind the album and how parents can use it to nurture their family’s spiritual growth.
Why We Sing “At First Light”
A few days ago my husband Zafar and I launched our first CD, “At First Light” Volume 1 under our duo name Soulrise Melodies. This CD was created to accompany the Radiant Hearts program, which Leanna first mentioned on her blog back in April 2012. The CD contains tunes to 20 short quotations from the Bahâ’í Writings, which I will describe in more detail below.
As I have been creating the lessons for the Radiant Hearts program (find a description at the end of this post), Zafar and I have been writing tunes to all the quotations and prayers included in the program (40 altogether). Each song was posted on the Online Lessons, in very rough format, which we then used to finalize and create more instrumental accompaniment to before heading to the recording studio. We began the recording process of the 20 quotations last October 2012 and finally finished the tracks in early January 2013.
The quotations are short (once sentence each) and repeated several times, each track averaging about one minute. They are short songs, as it is intended for young children to listen to the entire thing (preferably sitting reverently) and for them to try to sing along. The second half of the CD contains the instrumental tracks for each of the 20 songs. We included these instrumental versions so they can be used for sing-alongs and to aid in memorization. To hear a couple sample tracks, visit our Soulrise Melodies page, where we have some free downloads.
We are scheduled to begin recording the next volume (with the 20 prayers) in April of this year, and are aiming to have it available around June. This will be a longer CD, as the prayers two or three times the length of the quotations, and a bit more complicated as the melodies are more complex. However the prayers, like the quotations, are sung straight through so that recitation in spoken word later is simple.
Why We Chose the Title “At First Light”
We chose the title “At First Light” based on the following selection by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which is read for Track #41:
“Every day at first light, ye gather the Bahá’í children together and teach them the communes and prayers. This is a most praiseworthy act, and bringeth joy to the children’s hearts: that they should, at every morn, turn their faces toward the Kingdom and make mention of the Lord and praise His Name, and in the sweetest of voices, chant and recite. These children are even as young plants, and teaching them the prayers is as letting the rain pour down upon them, that they may wax tender and fresh, and the soft breezes of the love of God may blow over them, making them to tremble with joy.”
(Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 139)
The “At First Light” series was created to aid families with young children to recite the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh every morn and eve, but most importantly (for us, at least!) it has helped our family with devotions in our own household. Having a specific prayer and quotation to say every morning and evening has been the basis around which we have been learning selections from the Bahá’í Writings over the past year, and it has been important and special for all of us.
Daddy leaves for work inspired by the uplifting ideals. Mommy starts the day with a vision of what spiritual quality she can practice. The boys get to hear and/or practice singing (and memorizing!) the words of wisdom that will guide them in their lives ahead. And this is why “At First Light” is so dear to our hearts. It has truly been a source of inspiration in our own lives, and we only hope that it can be a tool others can use in their homes, as well.
You can purchase all 41 MP3s from “At First Light” Volume 1 for US$9.99 through CD Baby.
About Radiant Hearts
Radiant Hearts is an online multimedia program aimed at helping families with young children learn Bahá’í prayers, memorize short quotations from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, and study spiritual qualities together.
Why was Radiant Hearts created? You can read a more in-depth version about the history, but basically I wanted to create a comprehensive resource to organize spiritual education in my home and thought that if it would be useful to me, other mothers may find it useful as well! So I decided to create a program that would have everything online, in one place, so it would be easy to use from anywhere in the world.
The program consists of 19 lessons, one for each of the Bahá’í months. Each lesson focuses on a spiritual quality, and consists of a prayer and a quotation set to music, two songs, and 19 simple activities (including printables) for each day of the month. Activities are geared to children four and under, will last from five to ten minutes, and require only very basic materials that probably already have at home. There is also a shortened lesson for the period of Ayyám-i-Há.
Each Bahá’í month over the past year we have released a new lesson, and now the entire program is complete! You can find links to all the lessons on the Radiant Hearts main page.
Chelsea is a stay-at-home mom raising her two young boys in Australia, though she was raised in the United States and her husband grew up in Papua New Guinea. Chelsea is passionate about the advancement of women and promoting the nobility of motherhood, and feels supporting mothers practically and emotionally in providing spiritual education in their homes is crucial for community development.
You can find this CD and more in this year’s Ayyám-i-Há Gift Guide.