Love Is Here To Stay
In the spring of my sophomore high school year, I signed up for Music Appreciation Class taught by our band director, Mr. Cortese. He was an excellent clarinetist who exhibited a gruff personality. I distinctly remember him standing in front of the class, clarinet in hand, introducing us to early 20th century music - at which point he flawlessly demonstrated the opening glissando of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. My eyes were as big as saucers as the sensuous brazen sound oozed from the instrument, soon followed by a full listening to an LP recording of the work. Immediately after school I ran to the record store and purchased Leonard Bernstein’s famous recording with the NY Philharmonic. I was permanently hooked. For the next several years I was transfixed with all things Gershwin. While my other musician friends were listening to current popular artists like The BeeGees, Queen and Fleetwood Mac (I'm dating myself, I know), I was the music nerd at the piano, endlessly analysing Gershwin’s compositional style, harmonies and orchestrations.
So when Pastor Linda asked me to sing “Love Is Here To Stay” directly preceding her sermon last week, I did a quick doubletake. I mean what kind of pastor incorporates known secular “worldly” music into church worship? Well, that’s another side trail, but anyway - my inner music geek jumped for joy at the opportunity to present Gershwin’s final composition. Could it be that one of my favorite romantic jazz songs also holds spiritual truth? It is famously known that Martin Luther used melodies, and sometimes poetry, from non-liturgical songs for congregational singing. What a rebel rouser! And I have long seen parallels with our own human relationships, earthly though they may be, and God’s unwavering love.
With that said, here’s a brief look at this small, but timeless classic. In the opening verse, one hears the words, no doubt sung to his or her fearful lover. From a spiritual standpoint, the text speaks of our own questions about the insanity and instability of the world around us. But soon the perspective shifts to the voice of our Lover, assuring us that we can indeed rest in a love that is endless as time.
Romans 8:35, 38 & 39
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“Love Is Here To Stay” was the last song that George Gershwin composed before his untimely death in 1937. The lyrics were soon added by his brother Ira Gershwin. It was used briefly in The Goldwyn Follies (1938) as an incidental tune. It was not until 1951, when it was sung by Gene Kelly in An American In Paris, when it gained it's tremendous popularity. Since then it has been infinitely reinterpreted and continues to be a favorite in standard jazz repertoire.