The song “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong comforts me much like a warm and fuzzy coat on a cold winter day. I am refreshed by the calmness and stillness that the song brings forth, like the sound of soft bubbling waters in a brook. It feels inviting and soulful. The song opens with a majestic sound from the trombone accompanied by the piano and clarinet. The audience is overjoyed which is apparent from the overwhelming applause. After just a few breathtaking notes, they know that they are about to hear something truly special. It is pure joy. Life is so sweet through the voice of Louis Armstrong. His depiction sends a message of hope, love, and friendship. It truly resonates with ones heart, mind, and soul.
What Wonderful World
by: Louis Armstrong
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world. I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you.
I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I wish I could say that I had this vision for the world. I don’t always see people and places in this genuinely lovely light. As he sings “The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky/ Are also on the faces of people going by …” we get a picture of his loving nature towards others.
I love his analogy comparing the colors of the rainbow to people in the world. It’s truly astonishing. To me it means that just like each color has its own strength and personality, he feels that same warmth and expectation in the people that he meets in passing everyday. His lyrics put me to shame, because I don’t see people in shades of color.( Or, in other words, as unique individuals that I am eager to greet and meet).
I admit that I often see people stereotypically…or in “black and white.” They are one-dimensional at best. And I don’t intend to meet their acquaintance. On a good day, I could say that I see others in gray, which means I am not stereotyping–but I am not operating in love either.
In Matthew 22: 37 -39 God calls us as believers to “Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind.” And to “Love are neighbor as our self.” This was Jesus’s response when asked what the greatest commandment was to fulfill the law. It’s amazing to think that “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
As I listen to the lyrics in this song, I have a better understanding of how to love God and love others. I can appreciate what God has given me, as Louis does describing “trees of green, red roses too,” “skies of blue and clouds of white, ” and ” dark sacred nights.” And I can look for opportunities to show goodness to my neighbor even if it just means showing love by passing by and simple saying a genuine “hello” and” how are you.” Just as it is suggested in the lyrics, “I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do/ They’re really saying I love you.”
Love is often spoken of but not demonstrated, articulated well, or understood. Yet, in this song, I know what love should look like. The message of love is so crystal clear.
But the best description of love is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
I hope and pray that I can learn to love like this. “Love never fails” because it is necessary for heaven. In heaven our lives will be without suffering and hurting, and we will no longer in need of things such as knowledge, faith, and hope. But we will need love. Because heaven is a real place and we need to be a people of love when we reside past heaven’s gate. The song “What a Wonderful World” shows me a glimmer of what love looks like and through these lyrics I see a small slice of heaven.
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
I Corinthians 13:13