Category Archives: Music

464: The Song “The Secret”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #464, on the subject of The Song “The Secret”.

I sing this song from time to time in my solo concerts, but not that often–people just don’t seem to get it.

I remember that the first person for whom I sang it was Jeff Zurheide, in Evans Hall at Gordon College, so it must have been 1975 or 6, not later than 78.  He stared at me, and said that he thought I was going to end by saying that if you couldn’t do all those things just ask Jesus and he’ll help you do them.  That, of course, is not how it ends.  I played it some time later for Phil Keaggy, who was not really expecting someone to walk up to him after a concert carrying a guitar and singing a song, and all he said was it was interesting.

It comes from a silly saying, that there are two ways to get to heaven.  One was to be sinlessly perfect your entire life, and the other was the right way.  That’s what I wanted to capture with this.

This is another vocals-over-midi-instruments recording.  Although it sounds as if the eleventh and twelfth commandments are the two given as the most important by Jesus, they were references to two commandments I’d heard in my teens, Thou shalt not hassle and Thou shalt not sweat.  There actually were scripture references to support those, but I’m not sure what they were.  The point was to make the requirements seem as impossible to keep as they are.  Someone commented that they appreciated the shift near the end from the “never” rules to the “always” rules, that more was required than simply refraining from evil, that some positive good was part of it.

The Secret.

So here are the lyrics.

Everybody wants to know the secret;
Ev’ryone is looking for a way.
People tell us how to get to heaven,
But they disagree in what they say.

Some men say sincerity
Will pay the price of liberty,
But people make mistakes when they’re sincere.
Some men tell you to believe
Anything you do believe,
But that doesn’t seem to be quite clear.

I’ve waded through the answers;
I’ve found the one that’s true,
So if you’ll stop and listen,
I’ll pass it on to you.

God expects perfection from your birth until your death.
This is all you really have to do:
Keep your whole life perfect with your ev’ry passing breath.
This is what the Lord expects of you:

Keep the ten commandments, the eleventh, and the twelfth;
Love the Lord above all else,
And love your neighbor as yourself,
Show kindness to your enemy,
And give to all abundantly.
Never hate a man, never tell a lie,
Never doubt the truth, never question why,
Always bear the pain, always take the time,
Always keep the law, always stay in line.
Then perhaps you’ll make it to his throne;
Then perhaps you’ll make it on your own.

But if you’ve any trouble, there’s a better way:
Turn around and give your life to Christ,
And God will touch you with His power, and starting from that day
He’ll give to you a brand new kind of life.

Yes, if you’ve any trouble, there’s a better way:
Turn around and give your life to Christ,
And God will touch you with His power, and starting from that day
He’ll give to you a brand new kind of life.

*****

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” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442:  The Song “Call to Worship” | #445:  The Song “How Many Times” | #447:  The Song “When I Was Lonely” | #450:  The Song “Rainy Days” | #453:  The Song “Never Alone” | #455:  The Song “King of Glory” | #457:  The Song “Greater Love” | #458:  The Song “All I Need” | #462:  The Song “John Three”

#461: 2022 In Review

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #461, on the subject of 2022 In Review.

Each year I try to post an index of everything I published in the previous year.  I’ve done it before, obviously, so working backwards you can find previous years (and in the early days of the web log, partial years) at:

It has been an unusually productive year–in the sense that it has been productive in unusual ways.  In the wake of the release last year of my comprehensive apologetics book Why I Believe from Dimensionfold Publishing, they put to print my summary of time travel theory, The Essential Guide to Time Travel:  Temporal Anomalies & Replacement Theory, and republished three earlier books, Do You Trust Me? summarizing salvation by faith as the only way of salvation ever, What Does God Expect?  A Gospel-based Approach to Christian Conduct about living a Christian life without following rules, and About the Fruit, a study of the famous passage in Galatians and its place in that book and in the history of the first century church.  There is a long list of pending titles moving toward publication next year, beginning with a printed collection of the Faith in Play series–more on that later.

There were twelve entries in that series this year, including several on archetypes, a few on bringing divine acts into the game, some about spirits and the afterlife, and a couple about Christianity and role playing games.  The companion series, RPG-ology, also slated to be compiled and released in book form next year, gave us eight recovered Game Ideas Unlimited articles from the old Gaming Outpost series, plus one more originally in the e-zine Daedalus, and a few new suggestions for running games.  All of those are indexed at the Christian Gamers Guild, 2022 At the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, along with a few other articles at that site.

There were also many posts on the Chaplain’s Bible Study, which finished the Gospel According to John and began working on Mark, along with several Musings posts.

The Multiverser novels continued in serialized form, finishing the eighth, In Verse Proportion, featuring Joe Kondor, Bob Slade, and Derek Brown, and starting the ninth, Con Verse Lea, with the return of Lauren Hastings, Tomiko Takano, and James Beam.  These were accompanied by behind-the-writings peeks as mark Joseph “young” web log posts:

In collaboration with author Eric R. Ashley, I’ve got the tenth and eleventh books fully drafted, and we have started on the twelfth.  I also posted updated character sheets for Joseph Kondor, Robert Slade, Derek Brown, Lady Shella, Ezekiel Smith, and Amira Vashti, and am working on the next set of these.

The web log also posted eleven songs–not twelve, because due to government red tape tangles I was off line for a full month, but it only cost us a bit.  We saw, and heard (there are audio files linked from the pages which contain the lyrics and a story behind the song) including:

  1. #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again”;
  2. #438:  The Song “Even You”;
  3. #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road”;
  4. #442:  The Song “Call to Worship”;
  5. #445:  The Song “How Many Times”;
  6. #447:  The Song “When I Was Lonely”;
  7. #450:  The Song “Rainy Days”;
  8. #453:  The Song “Never Alone”;
  9. #455:  The Song “King of Glory”;
  10. #457:  The Song “Greater Love”;
  11. #458:  The Song “All I Need”;

Other web log posts included:

There was a new analysis added to the Temporal Anomalies site, Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies unravels The History of Time Travel, a clever mockumentary in which time travel was never invented because its inventor prevented it.

Those upcoming books include compilations of the first five years of articles in the Faith in Play and RPG-ology series, plus a book of collected essays on role playing games, and then I hope to see a series of commentaries on the New Testament, one book at a time.  I began with Romans a decade and a half ago, worked my way through the end of Revelation, then doubled back to do John, Mark, and Matthew, and am currently working on Luke.  after that, I will be going through Acts, which will complete the New Testament hopefully within my lifetime.

On the web, I have a few Faith in Play and RPG-ology entries queued to post and a couple more waiting for me to set them up.  There will be more web log posts, and hopefully I’ll get to some of the time travel movies I’ve noted are available on various web streaming services.  Of course, the novels continue, and the Bible Study will be around for a while yet.

I have an Instagram account, and early in the year I decided to post some of my Gazebos in the Wild photos to it, along with some other things there.  They are mostly in the categories of nonsense or personal, but you’re welcome to look.

Those who wish to stay current on what is being posted can get that from my social media outlets, but particularly Patreon, where I announce everything that posts on the day it posts, other than the Bible Study; and the Goodreads web log The Ides of Mark which publishes twice a month and includes the Bible Study posts.

There are also still more songs to come, and one should be released later today.

#458: The Song “All I Need”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #458, on the subject of The Song “All I Need”.

I had a dream.

In my dream, I was sitting in our apartment in Massachusetts with an acoustic guitar, and I started fingerpicking on an A chord and singing a song.  It was not a song I’d ever heard, but in the dream I knew the song, all the words, all the chords, the fingerpicking.

Then as I reached the end of the first verse, suddenly I was sitting across from me with another guitar, and as the first me continued playing the fingerpicking chords and singing the second verse, the second me started playing a frilly lead over it.

This continued through the bridge and into a third verse.

Then I awoke, and wrote it all down.  This vocals-over-midi-instruments recording is essentially the song as I dreamed it.

I don’t know whether I have ever performed it, because I feel like the second guitar is a necessity and I can’t play both at once, but it’s a good song.  Paul McCartney wrote one of his songs in a dream once; I can only hope that mine is as good as his.

All I Need.

So here are the lyrics.

I lived a life of lonely misery,
Thinking that things were fine.
That’s when a door sprang open unto me:
Joy could be truly mine.
Jesus had come and died to set me free,
If I would leave my life behind.
He healed my eyes, and now they truly see–
Eyes which were once so blind.

Give me this life, so I can truly know
What life is meant to be.
Give me this joy, and then just let me go
Living so selfishly.
Surely I heard Him gently saying, no,
You’ve got to give your life to me.
Die to yourself, and then you’ll start to grow
Slowly and painfully.

Growing daily in His word,
Serving Jesus as my Lord,
Doing all the things I’ve heard,
Loving–Jesus is adored.

Now I have found that Jesus knows the way
To make my life complete,
And I am growing, changing ev’ry day
He makes my life so sweet.
Jesus, I’ll try to do the things you say,
As on your word I daily feed.
He came and took my misery away;
Jesus is all I need.

*****

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” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442:  The Song “Call to Worship” | #445:  The Song “How Many Times” | #447:  The Song “When I Was Lonely” | #450:  The Song “Rainy Days” | #453:  The Song “Never Alone” | #455:  The Song “King of Glory” | #457:  The Song “Greater Love”

Next Song: John Three

#455: The Song “King of Glory”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #455, on the subject of The Song “King of Glory”.

I’m going to state up front that I would put this at the bottom of just about every list.

It is one of the weakest songs I ever wrote, musically and lyrically.  I actually wrote it in eighth or ninth grade, and it was intended originally to be part of a rock opera (they were a big deal then) about a depressed teenager, and was supposed to tell of an encounter with the Jesus People (also a big thing then).

It’s also a pretty bad recording.  It’s another vocals-over-midi-instruments one I did as part of the nostalgic collection of Last Psalm songs recorded for Jes Oldham.  I was struggling to squeak out Ruthanne Mekita’s soprano, and I don’t know whether that was the problem but the intonation of the vocals I just couldn’t get right.  I’m never that bad on my intonation, and it’s embarrassing.

But I recorded it, as I suggested, because Jes wanted a collection of Last Psalm songs, and this is one on which she sang once upon a time.  I won’t be at all offended if you skip it, but here it is if you want to hear just how badly I can do this sometimes.  I assure you that The Last Psalm sounded considerably better on this–I once had tapes, but they’re long gone, so this is the best I can offer.

King of Glory.

So here are the lyrics.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

When I need someone beside me,
He is always there.
When nobody else will hide me
He makes me take the dare.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

When you need an answer, man,
He’s the place to go.
He drew up the master plan,
You know he’s gotta know.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

Won’t you try my Jesus?
He is everything.
He’s the King of Glory,
The Eternal King.

*****

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” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442:  The Song “Call to Worship” | #445:  The Song “How Many Times” | #447:  The Song “When I Was Lonely” | #450:  The Song “Rainy Days” | #453:  The Song “Never Alone”

Next song:  Greater Love

#451: The Bethel/Hillsong Music Controversy

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #451, on the subject of The Bethel/Hillsong Music Controversy.

A long time friend asked me via Facebook private message:

You would most likely know about this.  I just watched a debate over Bethel and Hillsong music being played in worship services.  Since I am unfamiliar with them I could not follow the debate.  Perhaps you could shed some light on this.

Quite honestly I have not followed the details, and my friend might be better informed on this than I; but I think there are points worth considering.

There are of course those who object to using contemporary music for worship at all.  I encounter these arguments frequently, and there isn’t really any substance to them.  Some say that the contemporary music sullies the holy message, but the Reformers and the leaders during the Great Awakenings all used secular songs, usually bawdy songs sung in bars, to set Christian words and make our hymns.  Some argue that most contemporary songs aren’t very good, but that’s true in every era, and to some degree time is the test as most of the songs that aren’t good are forgotten and some of those which are survive.  In the end, the contemporary songs of the present are the great worship songs of the past in the future.

But it is specifically the songs of these two groups that are the target of this objection, and they have something in common:  they are worship bands from very large churches.  Thus the question becomes whether their churches taint their music, or more specifically their lyrics.

The first question in this is of course whether the churches themselves are heretical.  That’s not an easy question.  After all, there are Catholics who think Baptists are heretical, and Baptists who think the same about Catholics.  Yet both groups have produced wonderful worshipful music over the centuries, and even have borrowed from each other.  Some would paint the entire Charismatic/Pentecostal world as heretical, others as the fruit of the Third Great Awakening.  As a wise Quaker reportedly said to his best friend, “Everyone’s a little queer ‘cept me and thee, and sometimes I’m not so sure of thee.”  Many would label the entire Prosperity Gospel movement heretical, but others would say they’re just a bit misguided, and obviously there are many who believe their message.  At the same time, behind the first question is the question, does that matter?

It leads to the second question, which is, does the supposed heresy of the church impact the lyrics?  That is, do these songs preach or teach a false message?  That is a more difficult question.  After all, there are a plethora of songs about the pre-millenial return of Christ, most of them pre-tribulation, and while that’s a popular view it’s not necessarily the true one.  Every once in a while I hear a song that recalls the submission and discipleship theology of the 70s, and I usually turn it off.  How wrong does a song have to be to be a problem?  I heard one person object that most contemporary songs aren’t about Jesus about but about my relationship with Jesus–but if we are to sing spiritual songs in addition to psalms and hymns, would that not be included?  Songs that clearly teach a false belief should be discouraged, but I’m not aware that the songs from these bands do that.  Singing songs which are theologically sound popularized by bands from churches which are not is not in itself a problem.

However, there is one other potential objection, which is whether singing or otherwise promoting the songs themselves promotes the ministry behind them.  When songs by Hillsong or Bethel get heavy airplay and rise on the charts through sales, this means money into the pockets of the ministry and exposure to a wider audience.  If there is some egregious error promulgated by these ministries, even if it doesn’t show in their music, supporting the music might help promote the error.  Those who think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a heresy rightly hesitate to listen to Christmas albums from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, because the purchase helps fund the church.

That, though, brings us back to the first question:  are these ministries in some way heretical?  I don’t have the answer to that question.  Further, I don’t know that I need the answer.  I am not in a position to influence what songs are sung in any local church, or played on local radio stations; I don’t buy music or subscribe to a streaming service, so I’m only going to hear these songs if one of the local stations plays it.  That does happen, and although I do hear songs on the radio which I wouldn’t clear for airplay were I programming, I don’t think any of those are from the groups in question.

Just to be clear, if I were involved in leading local worship or programming a radio station, this is a question I would seek to answer.  The answer would matter to me in that case.  But that’s their job, and I have my own obligations.  If they think it’s all right to play, I’ll trust that they are aware of the controversy and took the time to address the questions.

#450: The Song “Rainy Days”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #450, on the subject of The Song “Rainy Days”.

This song doesn’t really belong here; I did not write it.

It was written by my good friend Arthur Lee “Artie” Robbins, who played with me beginning in eighth grade, before The Last Psalm, as bass guitarist in BLT Down and for Genuine Junk Parts before that, and as an acoustic and vocals duo before that.  He wrote this as a love song probably in eighth grade, and when BLT Down became The Last Psalm he, being Jewish, left.  I needed material, so I changed a few words and continued using the song; I also wrote the triple lead, but it was only ever a double lead until that band’s last concert, when we had both Andy Nilssen and Annette Young so could run two bass guitars and she played the third lead on the six-string short-neck Wurlitzer while he handled the bassline.  The song also had an improvised lead which segued into the triple lead, but I omitted that.  I also omitted backup vocals–during the last verse while Peggy was singing the melody the other four of us each had one note in the chord in an “ah” which we slid down from the E chord to the D, singing off mic, but I couldn’t sing the high E when I was finally recording this and couldn’t figure out how to make the midi vocals slide together or sound off-mic.  It’s a rather poor recording–I felt I needed chords behind the triple lead, and I didn’t want to add another guitar to two guitars and two bass guitars during the singing (and anyway, we didn’t have another guitarist) so I use the piano, and the mix was all wrong bringing the chords too far forward and drowning out the leads.  But you can hear them if you listen closely.

So why is it here?  It was one of those vocals-over-midi-instruments recordings made as part of the nostalgic collection of Last Psalm songs recorded for Jes Oldham entitled When I Was Young.  It is the only one of those which I did not write which I recorded, although Ruth has asked me about her song Lord, Lord, which we stopped singing when she left us but I might record for her if I get some new software working.

Rainy Days.

So here are the lyrics.

The rain, it pours and pours all day.
It turns the skies all cloudy and grey.
But inside my house the sun still shines,
‘Cause the Lord of Love, I know He’s mine.

Rainy days may come my way.
I guess we’ll have to make due,
‘Cause even if the skies are cloudy and grey,
I still know that I love you.

The rain, it pours and pours all day.
It turns the skies all cloudy and grey.
But inside my heart the sun still shines,
‘Cause the Lord of Love, I know He’s mine.

Rainy days may come my way.
I guess we’ll have to make due,
‘Cause even if the skies are cloudy and grey,
I still know that I love you.
I still know that I love you.
I still know that God loves you.

*****

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” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442:  The Song “Call to Worship” | #445:  The Song “How Many Times” | #447:  The Song “When I Was Lonely”

Next song:  Never Alone

#447: The Song “When I Was Lonely”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #447, on the subject of The Song “When I Was Lonely”.

This is another very early song, undoubtedly from my high school days, performed by The Last Psalm.  It didn’t make the list because it’s a very simple song, musically and lyrically.

That doesn’t mean that the song has no merit at all.  The simple message is still solid.  In the fourth verse, I changed the accompanyment to underscore the notion of dying.  In the fifth verse, I replaced the last two lines with instrumental because “I haven’t been lying” would not be understood as intended.

This was another vocals-over-midi-instruments recording made as part of the nostalgic collection of Last Psalm songs recorded for Jes Oldham entitled When I Was Young.  I remember that sometimes I sang it, but eventually I gave the solo to Peggy Lisbona, as it was in her range and I was trying to avoid being the star of the band.  It strikes me that Peggy was a friend of Jes, whom I met the night I invited Jes to sing with us and Peggy leaped at the opportunity to be involved.  I was hesitant to include someone I had never met before, but she proved to be a remarkable asset.

When I Was Lonely.

So here are the lyrics.

When I was lonely and all alone
I just asked Jesus to be my own,
And I haven’t been lonely since He came in
And made my heart his home.

When I was cryin’ and feelin’ sad
I just asked Jesus to make me glad,
And I haven’t been cryin’ since He came in
And made my heart his home.

When I was searchin’ for who I am,
I just asked Jesus to take command
And I haven’t been searchin’ since He came in
And made my heart his home.

When I was dyin’ inside my soul
I just asked Jesus to make me whole,
And I haven’t been dyin’ since He came in
And made my heart his home.

When I was lyin’ flat on the floor
I heard my Jesus outside my door.

When I was lonely and all alone
I just asked Jesus to be my own,
And I haven’t been lonely since He came in
And made my heart his throne.

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” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442:  The Song “Call to Worship” | #445:  The Song “How Many Times”

Next Song:  Rainy Days

#445: The Song “How Many Times”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #445, on the subject of The Song “How Many Times”.

I can explain why this song was not on the original “short list” for the Extreme Tour demo:  I wrote it in high school, and I feel like it shows the marks of an immature believer.  Yet I might judge it too harshly for that.

After all, my youngest son Adam (who co-wrote Even You, featured a few months back) likes it a lot, was learning to play the piano part for it.  I could discount that, because I think he likes angsty songs–but he says that “people” like it.  It also has a long history that commends it.

It is probably the song that put my music on the map.  The Last Psalm had been playing very small venues when we were invited to perform at the Luther College Coffeehouse Night, an invitational gathering of the heads of coffeehouses throughout the northeastern New Jersey area early in 1974.  I had Peggy (Lisbona, also contralto vocals) sit at the piano, while I joined Ruthann (Mekita, soprano), Ann (Hughs, alto), and Jeff (Zurheide, baritone, also lead guitar) in a stairwell adjacent to the dais.  The four of us sang the first verse and chorus of the hymn Softly and Tenderly in four parts a capella, and as we finished Peggy started playing the introduction to this song on the piano.  I scampered up the stairs, picked up my guitar, stepped up to the mic, and on the downbeat of the first verse I hit the CM7 chord and began singing.

At that moment, several people who thought all my talk about how to run a musical ensemble was hot air suddenly updated their thinking.  Andy (Andrew Hagan Nilssen) followed me and began playing bass mid-verse, followed by John (Mastick) on the drums, and Jeff came to the stage to play lead frills behind the vocals as the second verse began.  Ruthann and Ann joined us in time to sing the four part vocal ending, and the audience welcomed us to the stage.

We played a carefully-planned twenty-minute slot, and yielded the stage to others, but were invited back on stage at the end of the program to play another maybe half hour.  After that, several local coffeehouses invited us to play their venues.  This song had a lot to do with that, I think.

After The Last Psalm dissolved, I made a monophonic multi-track recording in which I improvised lead guitar frills; I liked them enough that I expanded them to two parts, and recorded that on a regretably lost tape I made in a studio at Gordon College.  I preserved the parts, though, for this vocals-over-midi-instruments recording, made as part of the nostalgic collection of recordings of Last Psalm songs for Jes Oldham entitled When I Was Young.  There is a midi “hiccough” in the second line, but it’s barely noticeable.  Although the lyrics don’t really strike me as great, I do like the inside rhymes.

I don’t perform it because I always feel like it needs the four-part ending vocals; I have a live recording I did at the Silver Lake Community Church one week which to my mind underscores that.  Yet it was an important song in my history, and worth preserving in its own right.

How Many Times.

So here are the lyrics.

How many times can I look down,
Only to find I’m still on the ground?
How many days?  I can’t even count.
How many ways have I tried to get out?

How much more is all I can take?
Before I know I will break?
And if I break, what else will there be?
Is it too late to care about me?

Is there someone, somebody, somewhere,
Or someone’s son who really cares?
Is there a man–there has to be–who would lay down his life,
Do what he can for you and me to save us from strife?

Yes, there is someone:  Jesus loves you.
Yes, there is someone:  Jesus loves you.
Yes, there is someone:  Jesus loves you,
Jesus loves you, Jesus loves you.

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” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442:  The Song “Call to Worship” |

Next song:  When I Was Lonely

#444: Ability versus Popularity

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #444, on the subject of Ability versus Popularity.

The world seems overrun with supposed talent contests in which ordinary people are invited to vote for the winners–the best musicians seems the most common, but other forms of entertainment are not exempt, including the best books.  I generally do not participate in these (that is, I don’t vote in them; not ever having been nominated, I cannot speak to that side of it), and I expect that people who think that I am at least nominally a friend are upset when I don’t rally to support them.  However, I think such support would usually be dishonest, reducing what is supposed to be a measure of ability to a measure of popularity.  Permit me to explain.

I have thought of this many times before, but this morning an announcer on a radio station which is a bit bigger than “local”, being a network of I think four stations covering sections of four states, encouraged listeners to go to a web site and vote for a particular contestant in a televised contest because he happened to live somewhere in the listening area.  Quite apart from the fact that the specific place he lived was at least a hundred miles from where I was when I heard this, that to me seems a very bad–and truly dishonest–basis on which to vote for someone in a talent show.  It wasn’t even suggested that the specific contestant was a listener of the station, which also is a bad basis on which to cast such a vote.  Nor did the announcer suggest that voting should be limited to people who actually saw the show.

I similarly get personal invitations to vote for people I have at least met, or with whom I have interacted over the Internet, who are participating in local contests, usually musical.  I also am encouraged at times to vote for the best books of the year.

The fundamental problem here is that I am ill-informed on the subject.  Often I have not actually heard the musician or band who wants my support–certainly my fault, that I fail to get to concerts and other venues or to watch many internet music videos, but a clear fact.  I also don’t read most of the best-selling books–I rarely read any of them, truth be told, reading books that are less familiar and usually older most of the time.  For me to vote for a band or book based on the fact that I know the artist or author without having any direct exposure to the work is itself dishonest.

So then, does that mean it is less dishonest to vote for the book I read, or the band I heard?  I think not.  If we are voting for the best book of the year, and I read one of them, on what basis am I asserting that this book is better than all the other books published this past year?  If I’ve only heard one of the bands in the competition, what value is my opinion that it is better than all the bands I haven’t heard?

When I was in radio I several times selected what I believed were the most significant Christian albums released over the year.  Arguably popularity could be a factor in significance, but I was more interested in ministry and artistic factors.  Someone once asked me what right I had to presume to review record albums, and I said, as the first point, that my job meant I heard every record released in the genre every year, and my second point that I had studied and performed music and made my own recordings, so I was intimately familiar with the process and the product.  If I chose an album as among the best, I had a reasonable and defensible basis for saying so.

Of course, people have all kinds of reasons for recommending a vote for a particular selection.  This candidate is from our home town, a member of our organization, an advocate of a particular position on an important issue, a member of a minority group, a Christian.  Every single one of those notions is a very poor basis on which to vote for the best in any group.  It devolves to a question of whom we like, and that’s not what we’re supposed to be choosing.

Thus such “talent” contests devolve into popularity contests.  I don’t like popularity contests, and maybe I’ll talk about that on my Patreon web log, but there is fundamentally a problem with determining the best based on who is the most popular–and it is a problem that infects everything in America from television shows to government.

And since it is thus dishonest to vote for who is the best on any basis other than a more than passing familiarity with all the candidates and an honest assessment of their relative merits, almost everyone who votes in such contests is dishonest.  I will not be dishonest that way, and will not ask you to be dishonest on my behalf.

#442: The Song “Call to Worship”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #442, on the subject of The Song “Call to Worship”.

It’s easy to explain why this song was not on the original “short list” for the Extreme Tour demo:  it’s short.

I hesitate to say that I wrote it in high school.  I think that BLT Down, the band that was precursor to The Last Psalm, used it on one occasion in 1972 to open a church service; I know that The Last Psalm sometimes used it as a concert opener.

I made this vocals-over-midi-instruments recording as part of the nostalgic collection of recordings of Last Psalm songs for Jes Oldham.  It has never been one of my favorites, but it is more a function song, a bit of modern liturgy.

I’ve had an odd relationship with liturgy over the decades.  Growing up in Baptist and Presbyterian churches, there was very little of it, and it was constantly in flux.  I remember creating worship services at summer camp, and specifically attempting to use the bits of liturgy as teaching tools.  The more liturgical churches generally had the same words repeated week after week, and this seemed to me to be vain repetition.  It wasn’t until I was in college that I read C. S. Lewis’ piece on updating the Anglican liturgy (in God in the Dock) that anyone explained to me the value of saying the same words week after week, which, according to him, meant you didn’t have to think about the words but could focus on the Person to Whom they were addressed.

I still don’t do well with liturgy, but I get it.  It’s like singing familiar worship songs, or praying in tongues, the worshipper freed from thinking about what he is saying so he can focus on God.  Liturgy just doesn’t work that way for me.

Because this song predates my reading of that essay, it has an aspect of trying to teach something to the congregation.  I know now that that’s not really what liturgy is for in liturgical churches, even if Baptists and Presbyterians use it that way.

Call to Worship.

So here are the lyrics.

God is our Father, this church is His home.
Let us now praise Him with our thoughts and our song.
Come into His presence and sing to His name,
Let Him run your life–you won’t be the same.

God is our Father, He’ll live in your heart.
Once He’s inside you, He never will part.
So when you leave here, wherever you go,
Take Jesus with you, let His glory show.

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” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” |

Next Song:  How Many Times