Sleepless over Sprechstimme

Has God ever kept you up late at night, or awoken you from a deep sleep with a thought? It happens to me, sometimes, and it’s always motivational. First, it motivates me to prayer, then, once I’ve discerned the meaning, motivates me to action. Recently, I awoke with one word, not my one-word for 2011: green,  but Sprechstimme.

** This is an illusion**


It’s an operatic term, one I haven’t given thought to since approximately 1998, when I competed in Academic Decathlon and we studied opera for our musical selections. Sprechstimme means to approximate speech by messing with the tonal composition of song, there is lilt and rhythm, according to the free online dictionary, but not precise pitches.You can hear an example, here.

Tone markings are something like suggestions. You might sing higher or lower than the note on the page, singing around it, but not on target.

Why in the world would God speak to me through composers like Schoenberg? After prayer and seeking, I am starting to get it. I’ve been getting close, but not hitting the mark.

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14.


It reminds me of a creative writing term: verisimilitude. Verisimilitude means to add enough details to create the semblance of truth in fiction.  Verisimilitude, like trompe l’oeil, it just a picture that stands in the place of reality. It’s an approximation of the truth, but not the Truth at all.

I don’t want to be missing the mark. I want to be hitting the target, shooting for accuracy, following what is written, not playing around with the pitch of my life.

I still need to follow this thought farther. I still need to seek discernment on this matter in my life. What is God trying to tell me? What areas of my life represent simulation and how can I strike the right note?

I wish  there were Spiritual decoder rings available, so I could move some dials and voila! the meaning to my late-night epiphanies would appear! For now, I’m going to be watching my life closely to make sure that my life isn’t a cheap imitation, or even an exquisite imitation, but the true mark.

Have you ever been woken up by a Spiritual message?

What word sounds just too, too, weird if you repeat it over and over?




28 responses to “Sleepless over Sprechstimme

  1. I’ve had spiritual messages in dreams before, but I don’t know if I’ve been woken up by one. If I was, I didn’t clue into it.

  2. Good blog today Kristin! Well, they’re good everyday but extra good today.
    Makes me think of that saying ‘Close only counts in horseshoes & hand grenades.’

    Rene Magritte is one of my favorite artists. I always liked the ‘This is not a pipe” piece.

    Also, on the musically related side of your blog post – I heard this really cool podcast awhile back where the hosts were interviewing this woman that works with musical trompe l’oeil… trompe l’oear i guess.

  3. I love your uber-intellectual posts. Ur smrt! It makes me feel better about myself to know that I have smart friends. So thank you.

    I can totally relate to the idea of finagling over truth. I can be very persuasive and at times, I can convince even myself that my version of the story is truth.

    In those matters that we can know, we MUST aim for accuracy and veracity. No riffing or harmonizing. Hit the dang note!

  4. How weird. I just had a dream where I was in a concert hall and got invited onstage. The music handed to me was missing the pages they were singing. Good thing the song was “O, Tannenbaum”. Sadly, I only know it in English. I read the dream like this: I long to be included in the world’s glory but am not equipped. I’m good with that. Better a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord…

  5. I’ll be honest…I hate it when God does that to me! lol

    Because I’m so sleepy and for some reason he wants to put a melody or lyric line in my head at 3 in the morning! But it always ends up being one of my best compositions in songs…So I guess I don’t hate it that much….

    The sound of “Mufassa”….is chilling….lol….

    Mufassa, mufassa, mufassa, mufassa, mufassa….

  6. God seems to speak to me the most just as I’m about ready to fall asleep. While I love the clarity of it and how sometimes in those moments I can get a whole message done in 20 minutes, I have to admit – I don’t like anyone, and I mean anyone, messing with my sleep. Sometimes we have words after. Like the – you could have given this to me 2 hours ago so I wasn’t falling asleep at 2am talks. He always wins though.

  7. That’s cool, He may be just trying to get you to think about something (and it’s working!). I find most days my first thoughts when I awaken set the tone for my entire day, and I know He has come to me with messages in dreams and visions too (I savor these!). Good post!!

  8. I don’t remember God ever waking me up like that, but there have been many times that he brings something to mind or speaks to me while I’m brushing my teeth before bed. Why brushing my teeth? I don’t know, but it happens. Of course when it does, I’m just as sleepless as if God had woke me up in the middle of the night, because I’m usually thinking about or trying to figure out what God is saying to me.

  9. Never been woken up. But, I hear Him the loudest as soon as I wake up in the AM.

    And a weird word…llama…

  10. I don’t like to put a lot of stock in them, but yes, I do have them.

    I just wrote a post about one titled “a new day”.

    I won’t be so self-gratifying to link up to it, but if you want, check it out.

    This was well written, Kristen.

  11. I’ve been awakened many time with a word or phrase. I love when God gives us something to talk about, a little mystery to figure out (I’m sure Bonnie Raitt would agree). I think paying attention to things like this are key. It may be nothing or may be something wonderful. Thanks Kristen.

  12. My Mom always told me that if I woke up in the middle of the night and thought of someone, it was time to pray for them. I don’t usually get woken by Him in the middle of the night. But, I do often hear from Him at strange times-like washing dishes, driving the car, taking a shower. Something about those tasks quiets my mind in a way that allows me to hear from Him directly-without distraction. I think I should tell my husband I need more time in the shower so I can hear from God. Nice way to get a break. 🙂

  13. Hmm….so after reading your explanation and listening to part of the Youtube, the objective of Sprechstimme is to sing like someone who can’t sing? To hit any note but the right one? This strikes me more as rebellion than innovation. Going against constraints simply because they’re constraining, rather than to achieve something better. A musical personification of relative truth; do anything you wanna do as long as it’s not what the book says you ought to do.

    The Magritte “not a pipe” is clever. Because I am a nerd, it reminds me of a certain classic film, in which the supercomputer bent on world domination is defeated by its inventor requesting it to compute this statement: “I am lying.” If the statement is true, then the statement is false; if the statement is false, then the statement is true. It’s an impossibility and the computer overheats and explodes trying to calculate an answer.

    • Sprechstimme isn’t necessarily hitting any note but the right one. It’s really approximating speech. But, the note thing is an affectation of the creator/composer. So, it’s not relativism or rebellion. I can see how you would come to that… I think in my life, it’s certainly more like the trompe l’oeil than willfully going against what God has planned.

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