#340: The Song “A Man Like Paul”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #340, on the subject of The Song “A Man Like Paul”.

I can pinpoint fairly precisely when this song was written.  I was at Gordon College, and Pope Paul VI had just died.  The process of electing a new Pope had begun; it would result in the appointment of Pope John Paul (who died a month later, the process repeating with the appointment of Pope John Paul II).  Recognizing the significance of the appointment of so public a leader in Christendom, I was contemplating that, and my mind made some connections.

The Apostle Paul by Abraham Bloemaert

Peter, of course, is said to have been the first Bishop of Rome, and so the first Pope.  (That’s contested–James appears to have been head of the church when it was led from Jerusalem, and the Eastern Church has never accepted that any individual was the head of the church, holding to a first-among-equals view.)  I began my song with a verse about that first Pope, thinking that the church needed someone like him in particular ways, willing to stand for the message.

I also remembered that the Pope prior to Paul VI was John XXIII, known for his efforts to extend an olive branch to Christians outside the Roman Catholic Church, and I connected that to the writings of John the Apostle, who wrote so much about love in his short epistles.  My second verse unfolded carefully in a way that could be identified with either of these Johns.  So, too, my third verse, as radio news commented that Paul VI had focused on spreading the message and expanding the church, and the connection to the missionary work of Paul the Apostle was at that point obvious.  I thus pieced together a song about five men, under three names.

That the song was about selecting a Pope was never obvious on its face, but the first person for whom I played it, one of my fellow students, knew that was what I had in mind.  His response was that we had to find a way to deliver a copy of the song to the Vatican.  I could not imagine any way to do that, and did not expect that the Vatican would pay any attention to anything I sent.  A month later when the selection of John Paul was announced he came to me and said it appeared that the church got the message, but of course it had nothing to do with me.

Without the backstory, the song is a challenge to all of us to be imitators of the great men of the faith.

Written on the piano, it was probably the most complex chord progression I had created to that point, each verse beginning with the same half line and then diverging into its own unique music, diminished chords coming into the third verse, and the opening line becoming the closer.  Playing it on the guitar was a challenge.  I think I surprised myself when I was able to bring the third verse back to the opening chords for the last couplet.

This is another recording done in an office with midi files for instruments, and it is a .wav file so it is rather large.  It was number ten on my list for the quality of the song itself, number nineteen for the quality of the recording and performance due in significant part to the fact that it uses the midis and lacks the flavor of a live piano.  It made Tristan’s list, tied for fifteenth, and so falls twelfth here.  The recording can be found here.

A Man Like Paul.

So here are the words:

A man like Peter, a man like John, a man like Paul.

A great confession gave this man the keys,
The man who opened up the door.
The Jews and gentiles both came to believe–
I ask, could God have used him more?
And when it counted, he took up his cross,
And like his Lord before him, there he died.
We need more men like that, who count this world as loss,
And take the pain God calls them to with pride.

A man like Peter–such a man was John,
A man who gave himself completely to the King.
A church divided, and soon it would be gone.
Love for each other was the most important thing.
A man of faith, a man of prayer,
Waiting just to hear what God would ask.
We need more men like that, for only those who dare
To live for God are equal to the task.

A man like Peter, a man like John,
Someone must be found to spread the word,
In all the land, to every man,
Making sure that ev’ryone has heard.
God needs a man of faith and prayer,
Someone who will answer to His call
And for his Master would go anywhere–
Only such a man could reach them all.
Such a man was Paul.

A man like Peter, a man like John, a man like Paul–
Only such a man could reach them all.
A man like Peter, a man like John, a man like Paul.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.


Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #340:  The Song “Selfish Love”

Next song:  Joined Together