Lying in your hospital bed, you tried to determine what was going on by the
sounds around you. Some sounds were easy -- clanging trays meant
mealtimes and hellos and goodbyes marked shift changes. Some were
a little harder -- scurrying could be good or, as it often was, very serious.
The baby chimes were different -- instantly you knew it meant there was a
new baby, and lying there alone, you felt you could share a little in the
excitement. When you are very ill you are confined to your room and to a
world characterized mainly by sounds of treatments and pain. Even in the
middle of the night, the instant good news of the baby chimes cuddled you
back to sleep, reminding you that good things were still happening
out in the world.
1946 - 2006
Lullaby on the Loudspeakers
Written by Kathleen Bostrom
Monday, 20 November 2006
Advent is a busy time in the life of anyone, let alone a pastor. A hospital was the last place I
ever planned to be during the weeks leading up to Christmas, with the exception of visiting
people. But one year, my body decided otherwise. And so, in mid-December, I lay under the
surgeon's knife for the second time in a year.
A hospital is not a haven of quiet and rest. It is anything but a peaceful place. I had a roommate
who smoked in the bathroom and turned the lights and TV on in the middle of the night with no
regard to my feeble attempts to sleep. Across the hall, an elderly woman with no idea where
she was howled with pain and cried for help at least once every three minutes, day and night,
day and night, day and night.
Without warning, a "code blue" sent emergency personnel and crash carts racing down the
halls. And there was the ever-present beep-beep-beep of IV monitors and heart machines, and
the loud conversations of medical personnel and visitors who don't realize how loudly voices
echo off hospital walls and bare floors.
One night as I lay in my hospital bed, hooked up to so many machines I couldn't even move
without help and close to tears from the pain and the frustration, I heard a faint sound. Amidst
the cries of pain, blaring TV's, and beeping monitors, I swore I heard a different type of sound
altogether: a soft, sweet, gentle song. Then it was gone. Was I imagining things? That was
entirely possible with all the medications coursing through my veins.
A few hours later, still awake and trying to block out the sounds of the woman wailing across
the hall and the loud, angry voice of my roommate swearing on the telephone, I heard the
strange, beautiful sound again. Could it possibly be? No, I must be hearing things.
When the nurse came in to check my vitals, I asked her: was it me? Or was there indeed a very
different sound breaking through the harshness of that place?
"Oh," she said, as she wrapped the blood-pressure cuff around my bruised arm. "It's a
tradition here. Every time a baby is born in the nursery, they play Brahms' lullaby on the
A lullaby on the loudspeakers.
Floating through the harshness of those halls - a lullaby.
And right then, for the first time since I had come through the emergency room of that hospital,
I smiled, albeit weakly.
I felt hopeful.
I felt peace.
Lullaby on the loudspeakers: a baby is born!
During the remaining time I spent in the hospital, I listened for the sound of that lullaby. Amidst
the horrible sounds of pain and misery that surrounded me, I strained to hear the sound of
hope, of life, of new beginnings. Lullaby on the loudspeakers. A child is born.
And I thought of another lullaby, which broke into the sounds of the night nearly two thousand
years ago, and in my heart, I heard the whisper of angels' wings:
Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people; to you is
born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
Do not be afraid, for over the sounds of people weeping and IV's beeping and bombs bursting,
over the cries of pain and suffering and sorrow, there is a heavenly lullaby: Do not be afraid - I
bring you good news, which is for all people.
I wonder sometimes why so few people heard the news of Christ's birth: why only one band of
shepherds heard the voice of the angel and the multitude of the heavenly host; why only a few
wise men knew to follow the star; why, among the hundreds of people in Bethlehem that night,
only a few wondered at what the shepherds told them.
And I think the answer is right there in the words of the Scripture that tells us, Mary treasured
all these words and pondered them in her heart.
Because the lullaby of good news that breaks into the world cannot be seen with the eyes or
heard with the ears or perceived with the mind: it is most deeply understood when we treasure
the words, and ponder them in our hearts.
The good news is heard most clearly when we allow it to seep into the broken places where we
are most in need of healing. It is not into a world of peace that we need Christ to be born, but
into a world in need of peace. Lullaby on the loudspeakers! Unto us is born this day a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.
Breaking through the ordinary sounds of life and death is the rush of wings, the stumbling
steps of shepherds, the soft cries of a baby, the sound of God singing to the world a lullaby to
announce the birth of his only Son: Good news! Good news. The Savior of the world is born.
Whenever I am in the hospital, as a pastor or as a patient, I listen now for the sound of the
lullaby on the loudspeakers. It doesn't happen often. But when it does, my heart sings for joy.
Lullaby on the loudspeakers! Into this world, a Savior is born! It is Christ, the Lord.
Kathleen Bostrom is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) since 1983. She
and her husband, Greg, have served as co-pastors of Wildwood Church in Wildwood, Illinois,
since 1991. She has published numerous articles in various journals and newspapers and is
the author of more than a dozen books for children.
We started playing a snippet of the Lullaby a few
months ago. It is not as disruptive as I feared it
would be. It cannot be heard in the patient rooms
and is played at a low volume in the public areas.
So far, we haven't had any complaints. We had a
term IUFD a few weeks ago who asked if it would
be played when she delivered. She knew about
the lullaby from a hospital tour she had taken. We
normally wouldn't, but instead of just saying that we wouldn't, her nurse
told her we would do whatever she wanted. The patient did want it played.
She she said she wanted something to acknowlege the life her unborn
baby did have.
I have learned that moms are all very different in how they mourn and we
just try to accommodate them where we can.
from matchstickxx at AllNurses.com