Choir Notes

Hold On
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4384

Over a hundred years ago, Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote The Secret Garden, an enchanting novel about a young girl, Mary, who is orphaned during a cholera outbreak and sent away to live with relatives she has never met. Her childhood has been filled with loneliness and neglect, but Mary’s personality begins to blossom as she and a young gardener bring new life to an old, neglected garden.

Though the garden seems to be nearly dead, the gardener helps Mary see the dormant life in it, which together they nurture to full bloom. The garden becomes a place of healing not only for Mary but also for others who are suffering—including her sickly cousin and her sorrowing uncle. It is a reaffirming, hopeful message of the resilience of life—that people can change, miracles can happen, and everyone’s story can have a happy ending. 

In a sense, we each have a secret garden that needs tending. It might be a relationship that needs a little extra care, a decision that needs to be made, a hope or a wish or a dream that needs some nurturing. Our garden may seem to be filled with weeds and thorns, but it is also filled with the potential to become lush and fragrant and beautiful. Even when life seems dark and hopeless, with some patient care and attention, things can always change for the better. 

In the Broadway adaptation of The Secret Garden, a friendly chambermaid uplifts Mary during a moment of discouragement with this inspiring message: 

When you see the storm is coming,
See the lightning part the skies,
It’s too late to run—
There’s terror in your eyes!
What you do then is remember
This old thing you heard me say:
“It’s the storm, not you,
That’s bound to blow away.” …
Hold on,
Hold on. The night will soon be by.
Hold on
Until there’s nothing left to try.
Child, hold on. There’s angels on their way!
Hold on and hear them say,
“Child, oh, child!” …
Hold on!1 

1. Marsha Norman, “Hold On,” The Secret Garden (1991).

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