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Sunday, July 8, 2012

And Then I Wrote...

     Years ago, I won an honorable mention in a song-writing contest. My entry was called “Down So Low,” an account of being spiritually lost, but rescued by Jesus. I always pictured it being sung in an R and B style, with girls in the background echoing “down so low” in a high-pitched tone. I never found anybody to put it to music. One friend tried, but he did a sort of country/folk tune. I think we disappointed each other, but we didn’t really talk about it, and the song vanished into the ether.
     And then I wrote something called “Come On Home,” which invites the lost and lonesome to return to the haven of the church. Another friend found a tune in the hymnal that fit the words, and got someone to sing it in church. She said she’d never seen me look so happy. That song faded into the mist. More recently, a talented young friend used a poem/song of mine as the text for a composing class assignment. She got an A+. I handed it around church, but it never made it into the rotation.
     A month or so ago, I took a crack at translating a psalm into modern language.

Psalm 117

Better praise Him, you nations.
Better praise Him, all people.
His love is great,
and He never fails,
so praise Him, everyone.
    It doesn’t seem to have inspired the worship leader I showed it to. Yet I am undaunted. Well, I am a little daunted, but I still keep thinking against all evidence that I have something to offer. My model is the young Isaac Watts, who complained so much about lousy translations of psalms being sung in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, his father told him, “Okay, kid, write something better.” Or words to that effect. He wrote about 600 hymns, including Joy to the World, Join All the Glorious Names, Jesus Shall Reign, Come We That Love the Lord and other hits that still grace the hymnals.
     Yeah. I’m not in that league, but I still think some of my stuff is better than the awkward strings of unrelated worshipy-sounding terms that too often pass for “praise” music in the church today. Now that I’ve offended a bunch of musicians, I shall toss out my latest effort, scribbled in the margins of a book. See what you think.

The Sun Came Up
You held me like a baby, led me like a lamb,
placed me on a path I couldn’t see.
You fed me bits of manna, words of sweetest truth;
it tasted real to me.
The light began to dawn, it drove away the shadows;
colors glowed where all had once been grey.
I saw the empty tomb, a place that might have held me,
but I was free.
The sun came up that day.
The sun came up; the light was Jesus.
He took my hand; He leads me every day.
The sun came up; the light was Jesus.
He took my hand; He leads me every day.