In 1998, Eva Cassidy recorded an old spiritual called “Wade in the water”. I was listening to her sing it in my car just recently:
Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
God’s gonna trouble the water
The lyrics are simple, but this water runs deep. As you’d expect from a spiritual, the reference is biblical. The rest of the song speaks of the children of Israel on the banks of the Jordan river, ready to cross into the promised land. In Joshua chapter 3, God tells the priests of Israel to carry the ark of the covenant, the symbol of his relationship with his people and presence with them, to the edge of the flooded river and stand in the water. They obeyed, and as soon as their feet got wet, God began to stop the flow of a mighty river and clear a path for his people to walk across on dry land.
Continue reading Wade In The Water
The world has a rhythm: a steady beat of seasons and sunrises, of tides and migrations and flowers and fruit.
The world has a melody: the beauty that stands out and demands our attention—the dawn chorus, the painted skies, the autumn colours and majestic peaks.
The world has a harmony: the subtle details that we hardly even notice, but they add richness and depth to the world, like the veins in a leaf, the scent in the grass, and the warmth in sunshine and fire.
The world is a symphony: exquisite and detailed and beautiful. But for all of its music, there is one thing that the world cannot supply on its own. The world has music—but it doesn’t have lyrics. That’s where we come in.
Continue reading Music And Lyrics
Music is powerful. While words that are spoken and read knock on the front door of your mind, asking for admittance, words set to music can sneak in unnoticed through the back window and before you know it they’re sitting in your best chair drinking a cup of tea with their feet up and a fire laid. And they never leave. I still know the lyrics to songs I learned decades ago, even though I never tried to learn them at all. The power of music is scary, considering the rubbish that finds its way so often to the top 40 lists. But the power of music can also be a strong ally for the times we desperately need to be reminded of the truth. This is probably why God included an entire song book in the Bible (the Psalms). Sometimes I need that song, sitting in the good chair, singing to me the same words again and again, singing hope and peace into my heart. On that note (pun intended) I’d like to share a few songs that have done this for me recently. These songs are not in any particular order, and I won’t be offended if you don’t like some of them. I just hope you can find something here that will help you like it has helped me.
Continue reading Songs That Have Helped
Full confession: I’ve never really liked the song “Baby, it’s cold outside”. I always have found it a bit creepy, and I’d certainly like to keep my children from hearing it enough to start singing along with it on the radio. In other words, I won’t miss it if it goes to the cultural guillotine, as many are calling for.
Still, I have to say, I’m a bit surprised: When did we start caring about song lyrics?
Continue reading Baby, it IS cold outside
We’ve all heard of the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. From the 1500-1800’s, more than 12 million souls were captured, torn from their families and homes, and sold across the sea – with almost 2 million dying before they even landed. Those that made it were treated as sub-human property by their new masters, to be used and tossed aside at will.
Of all the people in the world, these are the last you’d expect to hear singing. Yet sing they did, with such passion and rhythm and hope that they eventually created a whole new kind of music: Gospel, a genre still popular enough today that I recently attended a concert at the Cork City Hall along with hundreds of other people who all paid €40 for the privilege of hearing the Blind Boys Of Alabama sing about Jesus in their toe tapping style. Continue reading Gospel Music: The Happy Song That Grew From Suffering