Gladys Hunt on the Music (and Magic) of Words

Editor’s Note: The universe began with spoken words (“And God said . . .”) and in a sense, so do we. We wrap up this month’s -Honey for a Child’s Heart Read-along with two meditations on the unique power of language to the human soul.

The Music of Words

Originally published on the Tumblon website October 17, 2008

There is a kind of magic in words. God spoke and created a world, the Bible says. In the same sense, you and I speak and we create a world, too –a world for someone else to live in. Think back in your own life and remember the times when words created a world for you—a world that influenced your view of yourself, of truth, of others.

Words are important from the very beginning. I was with a brand new father in a family birthing room last week. My grandson was holding his first born, wrapped in a receiving blanket, not even bathed as yet. He was talking to her, telling her about her family, how much she was loved, holding her close and softly using language to welcome her to this world. It’s the reason new parents are told to talk to babies while they are being cared for– the murmur of language, the use of words which are so vital to a healthy child.

Hearing this, a young mother once asked me what she should say to an infant who was “unable to respond.” Oh, they will respond all right, I said—with smiles and kicks and hand movements. How do you think, “Rub-a-dub dub, three men in a tub…” began? Or “Rock-a-bye, baby, in the treetops” or dozens of other nursery rhymes? In the beginning it doesn’t need to be profound, but words have a music in them, a sound of sensibility, and our babies grow in special ways as they hear these sweet sounds.

The importance of words

Originally published on the Tumblon website October 31, 2008

As I was rocking her newborn baby, I said to the mother, “He seems to like it when I sing to him.” She answered, “Oh, I’m sure he does. I have been singing to him for the last nine months.”

A gladness swept over me. What a lucky lad you are, I said to the baby, to have heard such happy sounds before you even emerged into this world. Words are best when they have a soothing, welcoming effect.

Words. Don’t underestimate them whether or sung or said. “No one told me I was supposed to talk to the baby while I changed diapers or dressed the baby,” a young Mom said. That made me wonder how I knew to do it. Was it because I saw my mother and my older sister smiling and talking to her baby from the time of its birth? It’s something you learn from others partly. On the other hand, you could say it’s a no-brainer. After all, this is a little person and there is so much to say about the world. It’s the beginning of communication.

© Gladys M. Hunt 2008-10, reissued in 2022 with minor adjustments with permission of the Executor of the Literary Estate of Gladys M. Hunt (4194 Hilton SE, Lowell, MI 49331). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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