I admit feeling overwhelmed when the Pandemic of 2020 took over our lives. Work, family, and faith seemed to change while all of life seemed to shut down around us. I realized that so much of my life had been organized around the routines of seminary life at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (after all, I’ve been president here for over 22 years). Certain days start off at 7:40 AM with faculty prayer meeting. Every Wednesday is the Sonrise Breakfast Bible Study where I promptly arrive at 7:04 to begin teaching at 7:05 AM. Chapel meets Tuesdays and Thursdays. Usually I have somewhere to preach on the weekends. Now, with no routine, the days begin to run together. Is this what Heaven feels like? Or retirement?
I decided to add some challenges to my new life of Zoom calls and text messages. I signed up for a virtual race, the 90 mile Hadrian’s Wall Challenge (I didn’t have to run it in one day!). I also decided to sign up for a conversational German class. I’ve studied German for reading and research but never felt competent speaking German. I also wanted to see what it was like to be an online student using some different platforms. I settled on the italki learning platform and found a great German teacher who specialized in conversational German and used some innovative (to me) methods.
My native language of English is an Indo-European, Anglo-Saxon, language at its core and shares some things in common with modern German. Alas, my big American mouth rebels against the twists and turns of fluent German. One thing I like about my teacher is that he gives me the freedom to fail (spectacularly at times) and pushes me to keep practicing and trying new things. I decided to do a special project for the class but I did not tell the instructor exactly what I was planning.
I discovered a fantastic singer and band on youtube, namely Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester. The group recreates the sounds of German Big Bands from the 1920s but with some interesting twists. One song in particular stuck in my mind and I thought to my self, “Self, you could do this song as a project for your class.” As things developed the entire Spradlin family pitched in to make it happen. Daughter Laura sang with me, wife Lee Ann played the piano, son Thomas played guitar and recorded the audio. Son David’s girlfriend Laurel videoed and managed the photoshoot. Just another COVID19 family get together.
The song in question is Guten Tag, liebes Glück, by Max Raabe, Daniel Faust, Peter Plate, and Ulf Leo Sommer. The simple words of the song tell that:
Today is a good day to be happy. If happiness is at the door I’ll let it in. . . . It’s about time.
Our German pronunciation is still not very good but we are making progress.
Here is the inimitable Max Raabe, LEA, and the Palast Orchester performing the original. We may not at their level but we love their music all the more!
Also, special thanks to my German teacher who has started me on the path to conversational German: