Category Archives: Music

#374: Christian Instrumental Music

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #374, on the subject of Christian Instrumental Music.

Quite a few years back my wife and I picked up a pair of soprano recorders, and within a few days were playing a duet of the hymn Glorious Things to Thee Are Spoken.  One night a gamer friend, Bob Schretzman, visited, and we played it for him.  He thanked us for playing one of his favorite songs, Deutschland Uber Alles, the German national anthem.

That came back to me this morning as the local Christian radio station played an instrumental version of a spiritual song, and it being familiar to me I had the words to the first verse running through my head–but I only remembered the first verse, so when the music repeated, so did those words.  That got me wondering.

I’ve previously noted that Christian record producer and recording artist Chris Christian (who discovered Amy Grant) disdained Christian instrumental music, challenging that what makes music Christian is the words.  He would sit on stage and play Alley Cat, and at the end of each line speak a word related to Christianity, and suggest that made it a Christian song.  I have a hard time disagreeing with that.  I know that when I hear instrumental versions of What Child Is This, particularly around Christmas, those words are in my head–but I won’t swear that at other times of the year I don’t hear the words to Greensleeves, and I’m sure there are many out there for whom those are the first lyrics that come to mind for that melody.  The Reformers often put Christian words to bawdy bar songs, because their converts knew the music; at what point did those become Christian melodies?  It certainly seems that what makes music Christian is the words.

On the other hand, Johann Sebastian Bach expressed the view that all of his music was written to glorify God.  We can certainly see that in the hundreds of chorales, the B Minor Mass, and other choral works–but how many of us are moved to worship by the Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor or the wealth of other fugues he wrote for organ or orchestra or chamber ensembles?  Does the fact that he says it is Christian music make it so?  Someone has written words celebrating Christmas to fit Pachelbel’s Canon; does that make the original song Christian?  What of Christian bands that do what would be called parodies of secular hits, replacing the original lyrics with Christian words?  In my 1970s band The Last Psalm our soprano sang the words to Amazing Grace to the music of The House of the Rising Sun (although I heard someone else do that first, and stole the idea from them); does that sanctify the music such that a folk song about life in a brothel becomes suitable as a Christian instrumental?

Perhaps we would like to claim that all music is ultimately Christian, and we might do that by asserting that all creative efforts are imitations of the image of God and so glorify Him to the degree that they in their greatness reflect His.  If music is a medium of communication, perhaps it can communicate something about God without being bound to words.  Yet Tubal-cain, father of all who played the pipe, was a descendant of Cain, not Seth, and so we might argue that all music is inherently secular unless it is somehow redeemed.

I lack the answer to this question.  I know musicians who perform instrumental music they assert is Christian, and it is usually arrangements of familiar hymns or other songs of faith.  I even have a collection of midi instrumental recordings of nine Christmas songs I arranged that I often play around the holidays.  Yet it still seems to me that for music to be Christian it must inspire thoughts of faith, and that seems to require words.

But then I come back to Bach, and wonder whether there is Christian instrumental music which inspires us to faith without using words.

#372: The Song “Heavenly Kingdom”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #372, on the subject of The Song “Heavenly Kingdom”.

This song is tied for nineteenth on the list; I ranked it number eight for the overall quality of the song, and Tristan included it on his list, albeit at the bottom, tied for fifteenth.  The problem pulling it down was although there is a decent recording of it on Collision: Of Worlds, I don’t sing it, and I am still reluctant to use versions of songs I don’t sing.  Thus I had to do a recording in my living room on a digital recorder, with all the same “mistakes” I made when I recorded Still, Small Voice–automatic level control picking up room noise when the song got quiet (which this one does quite a bit), breathing difficulties because I had just gotten out of the hospital.  Add to that that the song was written for three vocals and never performed with fewer than two, and that at the ends of the lines there were always instrumental frills (lead guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums), and it’s a very disappointing rendition of the song.  However, it is a good song.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

The song was written during the 7dB days, and performed then.  It arose out of musings that I knew I was a teacher but I wasn’t sure how much of my music was teaching.  I had long had this idea in my head, but never as a song, and I decided it could work set to music, so I tackled it.

The idea arose from Jesus’ teaching about cutting off your hand and plucking out your eye if they caused you to sin, which for many years bothered and upset me until I realized that our body parts don’t cause us to sin–it is that inner person that does so.  This was such a relief to me, and ranks high in my list of great realizations.  I thus thought that a song that taught this, that it’s not your body parts of which you must rid yourself but that selfish person inside, would work.

My wife, not seeing it quite as I did, thought the song much too upbeat and happy for the message–that you have to die to yourself–but then, I found the happiness in the fact that I didn’t have to remove body parts.  Mohammed got it wrong, I would say.  Get rid of what really causes you to sin.

As mentioned, we started doing the song with 7dB and continued with CollisionThis recording is none of the above, and I tripped over several words and a few guitar strums, but it does give the flavor of the song.

Heavenly Kingdom.

So here are the words:

If your hand caused you to sin,
Would you cut it off to enter in
To the Heavenly Kingdom?
If your eye caused you to doubt,
To save your soul, would you pluck it out
For the Heavenly Kingdom?
If it’s not your hand and it’s not your eye,
Would you give your life, lie down and die?
Would you let yourself be crucified
For the Heavenly Kingdom?

If your feet caused you to stray,
Would you give them up, or walk away
From the Heavenly Kingdom?
If your tongue caused you to lie,
Would you bite it off–would you even try
For the Heavenly Kingdom?
But your feet don’t stray and your tongue won’t lie;
It’s your selfish self that has to die.
Would you let yourself be crucified
For the Heavenly Kingdom?
For the Heavenly Kingdom?

Would you be crucified with Christ,
Baptized and buried in His death,
Raised up and living in His life,
Breathing Him in with ev’ry breath?

If your heart is filled with strife,
Would you let it die to give you life
In the Heavenly Kingdom?
If your soul is filled with pride,
Would you let yourself be crucified
For the Heavenly Kingdom?
Give up your soul, give up your life,
Give up your pride, give up your strife,
Come and let yourself be crucified
For the Heavenly Kingdom.
For the Heavenly Kingdom.
For the Heavenly Kingdom.

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:  My Life to You | #366:  The Song “Sometimes”

#371: The Twenty-Twenty Twenty/Twenty

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #371, on the subject of The Twenty-Twenty Twenty/Twenty.

I believe the correct greeting is Happy New Year, as we enter 2021.  That means it is time for us to look back at everything that we published in 2020.

The big deal is the book, in paperback and Kindle format, Why I Believe, a compilation of evidence on the basis of which intelligent people believe in God and in Jesus Christ.  I’m told the hardcover version is out, joining the paperback and Kindle versions, but haven’t seen it yet.

The year began, appropriately, on January 1st with a look back at the previous year, web log post #325:  The 2019 Recap, doing then what we are doing now, providing a quick look at everything from the previous dozen months.

On the first of the year I also published a song, the first of a dozen continuing from the seven of the previous year:

  1. web log post #326:  The Song “Mountain Mountain”;
  2. web log post #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice”;
  3. web log post #334:  The Song “Convinced”;
  4. web log post #337:  The Song “Selfish Love”;
  5. web log post #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul”;
  6. web log post #341:  The Song “Joined Together”;
  7. web log post #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them”;
  8. web log post #349:  The Song “I Can’t Resist Your Love”;
  9. web log post #353:  The Song “I Use to Think”;
  10. web log post #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good”;
  11. web log post #362:  The Song “My Life to You”; and
  12. web log post #366:  The Song “Sometimes”.

That series continues with another song later today.

On the subject of series, there are several others, including both the Faith in Play and RPG-ology monthly series at the Christian Gamers Guild.  These are both indexed, along with other excellent material from other contributing authors, at 2020 at the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, posted yesterday.  Thanks to the editorial staff of the French edition of Places to Go, People to Be, a large collection of the original Game Ideas Unlimited articles, thought to be lost when Gaming Outpost closed, have been recovered and are now appearing slightly repolished in these series.  (Quite a few of them plus other articles have been translated into French for their site.) We also finished posting the rest of the novel Versers Versus Versers, along with updated character sheets in the Multiverser Novel Support Pages, and started on the seventh, Re Verse All, which will continue well into the new year.  There were quite a few behind-the-writings web log posts connected to those, but they are indexed in the novel table of contents pages so we won’t burden this entry with them.

There was also the continuation of another series, reminiscences on the history of Christian contemporary and rock music from the early 1980s, which picked up with:

  1. web log post #329:  CCM Guys at the Beginning, a conglomerate of artists from Randy Matthews and Randy Stonehill through Michael W. Smith;
  2. web log post #332:  The Wish of Scott Wesley Brown;
  3. web log post #335:  Bob Bennett’s First Matters;
  4. web log post #342:  Fireworks Times Five, one of the best rock bands of the era;
  5. web log post #345:  Be Ye Glad, one of the best vocal bands of the era;
  6. web log post #358:  DeGarmo and Key, Not a Country Band, another excellent early rock ensemble.

I should mention for the time travel fans that there is indeed a book in the works, possibly with a sequel, but it’s still in the early stages so that’s on the list for the coming year.  Meanwhile, temporal anomalies were not ignored, as we had several posts and pages.

Among the miscellaneous posts this year is one about the fact that my work appears under several slightly different names–Mark, Mark J., M. Joseph, M. J., and Mark Joseph–and the story behind that is explained in web log post #331:  What’s With the Names?  A musician asked a question on a Facebook group, which I answered in web log post #352:  Why No One Cares About Your Songs.

Giving extra confusion to the year, in February my second grandchild, my first grandson, was born, roughly a decade or so after his half-sister.  That was the beginning of a saga that still is not completely resolved, but it was several months before he came home, in time for Halloween.

My book reading slowed drastically, due largely to the fact that my Kindle was smashed and I’ve been trying to get it repaired, but there are a few book reviews (one of a book on writing) at Goodreads.  Also appearing are two republished book reviews, as web log posts #351:  In re:  Evil Star and #368:  In re:  Cry of the Icemark, recovered from the lost Gaming Outpost archives.

We were quiet on the political front until June, when events related to Black Lives Matter prompted the writing of web log post #344:  Is It O.K. Not to Make a Statement?  Some argued that it was not.  We later explained the mail-in ballot system adopted by our home state in web log post #360:  Voting in 2020 in New Jersey, with a follow-up a couple weeks later in web log post #363:  The 2020 Election in New Jersey.

The year ahead looks promising.  There should be another song posted today, with Faith in Play and RPG-ology articles already queued for publication later this month and well into the year ahead, chapters of the novel Re Verse All with their accompanying behind-the-writings peeks standing by, more CCM history, some time travel movies awaiting my attention, and–well, we’ll have to see what appears.  Meanwhile, this is your opportunity to catch anything you missed or re-read anything you forgot.

I would be remiss if I did not thank those who have supported me through Patreon and PayPal.me, and to invite and encourage others to do so.  The Patreon web log is the first place where all new pages are announced, and the place to go for glimpses of what is to come, and even as little as a dollar a month helps me immensely and gets you that information delivered several times a week.  Thank you.

#366: The Song “Sometimes”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #366, on the subject of The Song “Sometimes”.

This is the nineteenth song on the list; I honestly do not remember when or where I wrote it, other than that it was done on a piano and was an effort to write a descending baseline song that was not the standard VI-V-IV-V of VI but didn’t sound like the classic Chicago song.  I wrote it in Bb minor, but when we did it with Collision I transposed it down half a step because it was much easier to play on a guitar in A minor and not more difficult for the piano part.  This recording is from the album Collision Of Worlds (as pictured, Jonathon Maness on keys, Kyle Baxter guitar, Nick Rhodes on drums, and me covering bass and vocals).  I’ve always been disappointed with the dynamics on the recording, but it’s the best recording I can offer.  (I think there is a good live version when Jonathan Maness and I played together at a retreat Mike Brantley asked us to do a week after Jonathan had left the band, but I was wading through all the concert and rehearsal tapes last year and got derailed at some point, so I don’t know where it is.)

I listed this as my number two song for music and lyrics, and I’m not sure it isn’t becoming number one; it was pulled down by the fact that I was so disappointed with the recording that I placed it at number 31 for performance and recording (although in retrospect it’s really pretty good, and my disappointment might be a bit of an overreaction), and Tristan didn’t include it on his list.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

Sometimes.

So here are the words:

Sometimes only you and I alone can see
I am not the things that I know that I should be.
Sometimes people ’round about me cannot tell
In myself I’m only fit to be damned to hell.
No, I hide behind this smile upon my face,
Me of all most mis’rable, saving for your grace,
Me of all most mis’rable, saving for your grace.

Given time I’d only waste it all away;
I do not deserve to live even one more day.
Given talent, I would spend it on my pride–
I am such a sinful wretch, yet I choose to hide.
Given power I would work my selfish will.
How can God give life to one only fit to kill?
How can God give life to one only fit to kill?

He calls me by my name;
He tells me, “Child, arise!”
I’ll never be the same:
I have looked into His eyes.

Now I see the one who died upon the cross;
All that I had counted gain there was counted loss.
Now I have no reason, nothing left to hide:
I’m the one deserving death; I’m the one who died.
Now my eyes are clearing–now I start to see,
Ev’rything that Jesus was God is making me,
Ev’rything that Jesus was God is making me.

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:  My Life to You

Next song:  #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom”

#362: The Song “My Life to You”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #362, on the subject of The Song “My Life to You”.

This is the eighteenth song on the list, written during the 1977-78 school year in the study of our Landmark Lane apartment in Rockport, Massachusetts.  It is one of my youngest son’s favorites (I think he likes songs with angst in them), but he didn’t respond when I invited him to contribute to the selection process.  I listed it twenty-second for the quality of the song itself, eighteenth on the quality of the midi-instrument recording and performance; Tristan had it on his list, tied for ninth, which pulled it up.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

By the time I wrote this I was making a point of trying to make my songs different from each other.  I thus started this on a Bb major seventh chord, making for a rather difficult song to play on an acoustic guitar.  (Guitars and most stringed instruments prefer sharp keys; flat keys are packed with hard-on-the-fingers bar chords and difficult notes on violins and violas as open strings are eliminated.)  I also went for a mellow jazz flavor.  I intentionally jumped the octave and inserted a transitional chord at the end of the second verse into the first bridge, and then specifically did not do so when the third verse goes into the second bridge, both times to create surprise.  I admit that I stumbled into the extra couplet and the diminished seventh chord on the last verse, pushing the end of the verse up an octave and increasing the build–but this isn’t supposed to be a songwriting instructional, just memories about the song.

As to that, I don’t have many.  We never included it in the repertoire of any band, and because of the bar chords I don’t often do it in solo appearances.  I remember struggling with the lyrics in the second bridge–I wanted it to say that if I asked Him to change my days to bring joy He would change my ways, but I couldn’t get that and had to say the reverse.

This midi-instrument recording is the one on which I based my decisions.  When I was trying to find a copy to upload I stumbled on this live recording from a late December 2014 Sunday morning appearance at the Silverlake Community Church using a borrowed acoustic guitar, complete with introductory comments.

My Life to You.

So here are the words:

When I was young I went to Sunday School,
And there I learned about the Golden Rule:
Do what you want men to do to you;
But I found that too hard to do,
So I thought I would write my own:
Now I do what I don’t condone.
It seems that I am rotten through and through.
Someday I’ve got to give my life to You.

Now I’ve grown, and I am wise indeed:
I know love is what we really need.
Love will bring us to a peaceful state,
But my own life is full of hate.
I am striving to work my will.
Love means serving, I know, but still
I keep on doing what I want to do.
Someday I’ve got to give my life to You.

I just can’t seem to see, or understand,
No matter how hard I try,
If I make You my king, you’ve wonders planned.
That’s why You came to die.

Then when finally I saw my sin,
I tried to change me from the outside in.
I tried to go ways I couldn’t go;
I tried to show love I didn’t know.
Now I’m learning beyond a doubt:
Man must change from the inside out,
And that’s what You say You want to do.
Someday I’ve got to give my life to you.

If I would say to You, rearrange my ways,
And make You my sovereign king,
Then this is what You’d do, You would change my days,
And oh, what joy you’d bring.

Will I say with my dying breath,
“Give me freedom, or give me death”?
Will I keep on ignoring you,
Doing just what I want to do?
Will I keep going my own way?
When I’m dying, what will I say?
I’ve been dying for many years;
I’ve been crying, You’ve seen my tears.
Jesus, You make all things new;
Someday I’ve got to give my life to you.

Someday I’ve got to give my life to 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”

Next song: #366:  The Song “Sometimes”

#358: DeGarmo and Key, Not a Country Band

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #358, on the subject of DeGarmo and Key, Not a Country Band.

It was said that when Amy Grant realized she wouldn’t listen to her own records if they weren’t hers, she called Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key to collaborate with them on something with more of a rock sound.

It was probably a good choice.  They were clearly a rock band at the beginning.  Somewhere on their live album No Turning Back–Live one of them says, “We tried doing country music, but nobody could figure out what country it was from so we gave it up.”

The first of their albums I encountered was their third, 1979’s Straight On, and four songs stand out from it.  The opener, Jericho, was definitely rock in the Christian music world.  My favorite was undoubtedly Long Distance Runner, but I also remember the short instrumental Enchiridion which preceded it(although this reminds me of Chris Christian’s challenge, what makes an instrumental Christian?), and I Never Knew You.

Amy got in on the next album, This Ain’t Hollywood, collaborating with them on Nobody Loves Me Like You, the cut that got all the attention, upbeat for Amy but already the band was starting to mellow toward a more commercial sound and look, as demonstrated by Special Kind of Love from 1983’s Mission of Mercy.  You can’t blame bands for trying to sound like whatever sells, but it is disappointing to lose something unique (and unique is never the popular sound).

They continued releasing albums through 1994, with two best-of albums following in 2003 and 2006.  I know nothing about that.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple AndraĆ© Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.
  20. #272:  To the Bride Live.
  21. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.
  22. #281:  Keith Green Launching.
  23. #283:  Keith Green Crashing.
  24. #286:  Blind Seer Ken Medema.
  25. #288:  Prophets Daniel Amos.
  26. #290:  James the Other Ward.
  27. #292:  Rising Resurrection Band.
  28. #294:  Servant’s Waters.
  29. #296:  Found Free Lost.
  30. #299:  Praise for Dallas Holm.
  31. #302:  Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.
  32. #304:  Accidental Amy Grant.
  33. #312:  Produced by Christian and Bannister.
  34. #315:  Don Francisco Alive.
  35. #324:  CCM Ladies of the Eighties.
  36. #329:  CCM Guys at the Beginning.
  37. #332:  The Wish of Scott Wesley Brown.
  38. #335:  Bob Bennett’s First Matters.
  39. #342:  Fireworks Times Five.
  40. #345:  Be Ye Glad.

#356: The Song “God Said It Is Good”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #356, on the subject of The Song “God Said It Is Good”.

This seventeenth song on the list was written to celebrate the marriage of my friends Debbie nee O’Neil and Rich Van Norstrand.  I wrote it after we had all left Luther College but before my own wedding, and played it for them once, in the spring of 1976 when somehow all four of us (that is, with my wife Janet) were back on campus at Luther.

I must have heard someone say that the first thing God said was not good was that the man should live alone.  Up to that point, he had created the heavens and the earth, the light and darkness, the rain, the sea and the land, the fish, the birds, the beasts of the earth, and the human, and at each step saw that it was good.  Now there is something that is not good, and He fixes it.

I’m pretty sure that it was an ancient rabbinical observation that God made one into two so He could make two into one.  For God, marriage isn’t about sticking two random pieces together, but about putting back together what He originally sundered.

It ranked nineteen on my list for the song itself, but this midi-instrument recording placed number ten despite the fact that I stumble over a few words; Tristan did not list it.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)  It was my wife’s favorite of my wedding/marriage songs, at least before I wrote the one for her which is further down the list (mostly because it’s a poor recording), and one of two songs I sang at my sister’s wedding (the other, which I think is an excellent song, is sadly lost).

I have performed it solo, but the only recording of such a performance I could find was not good; it was written for piano, and although I can play it on guitar I prefer not to do so.

God Said It Is Good.

So here are the words:

God said, It is Good, when He made the light.
God said, It is Good, when He made the day and night.
God said, It is Good, when the light shone from His face.
God said, It is Good, when the light reached every place.

But God said, It is not good for the man to live alone,
And so He made a woman for the man to call his own.
He made one into two so He could make two into one.
In Jesus I charge you to love one another, be thankful for what He has done.

God said, It is Good, when He made the earth.
God said, It is Good, when the heavens had their birth.
God said, It is Good, when His work had just begun.
God said, It is Good, when He looked at what He’d done.

But God said, It is not good for the man to live alone,
And so He made a woman for the man to call his own.
He made one into two so He could make two into one.
In Jesus I charge you to love one another, be thankful for what He has done.

He saw that it was good that He had made the stars of night,
And good that He had made the sun and moon to give us light.
He saw that it was good to have the earth bring forth its life.
He saw that it was good that He had made them man and wife.

God said, It is Good, when He made the man.
God said, It is Good, when he finished what He planned.
God said, It is Good, when the man stood on his feet.
God said, It is Good, when creation was complete.

But God said, It is not good for the man to live alone,
And so He made a woman for the man to call his own.
He made one into two so He could make two into one.
In Jesus I charge you to love one another, be thankful for what He has done.

He saw that it was good that He had made the stars of night,
And good that He had made the sun and moon to give us light.
He saw that it was good to have the earth bring forth its life.
He saw that it was good that He had made them man and wife.

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”

The next song: #362:  The Song “My Life to You”

#353: The Song “I Use to Think”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #353, on the subject of The Song “I Use to Think”.

I wrote this sixteenth song on the list almost certainly in late 1974 or early 1975.  I was reading a lot of C. S. Lewis at the time, and I recall at least playing it if not writing it on a piano in one of the halls at Farleigh Dickenson University’s Teaneck-Hackensack campus where I was working as a security guard.  In my mind there was a perhaps loose collection of aspects of life that were impossible without God, and this song managed to string four of them together.

I have perhaps always been a bit ambivalent about this song.  Although it was written while The Last Psalm was still together, it was not performed then.  Arguably I did not include it for TerraNova because I had not conceived vocals for it, but I also did not suggest it for Cardiac Output.  On the other hand, when I started recording the midi-based songs, this was the opener of the second disk; and Collision used it to open many concerts and as the opener of the album Of Worlds.  It is a Christian song in the sense that it undermines worldly values and concepts; it doesn’t put forward the answers.  It is very much about how modern knowledge without God leaves us without answers.

I ranked it twenty-sixth for the song itself, but this recording, from the Collision Of Worlds album, came in at number twelve, and Tristan likes the song, tying for number nine on his list.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)  I do very much like how the title, which begins as a suggestion that I’ve learned otherwise, comes to the end to mean that–well, that would be a spoiler.

The lyrics were posted previously in connection with Cardiac Output mostly because I was looking for songs with minimal repetition in the words; There is an extensive discussion about it in connection with Collision.

I Use to Think.

So here are the words:

I use to think I loved you, and I told you once before
That as each day continued I would love you more and more.
I knew what I was feeling, and I thought that it was real,
But now I find that anything I feel is nothing more than how I feel.
They tell us in biology
It’s just a change in chemistry;
It’s just as plain as it can be
That love is not reality.
It’s not for you, it’s not for me–
A child is for posterity,
And if there are too many, we
Must bend to the society
It can’t be from up above;
Is that all there is to love?

I use to think that living meant that life would be worthwhile,
And so I searched for something, and I traveled many’a mile.
I thought life was important, and I sought to find out why,
But now I guess that anything I thought before was just another lie.
They tell us in astronomy
That’s one impossibility.
We’re just a tiny speck, you see,
Compared to one small galaxy.
What happens here could never be
Of such universality
To have a lasting memory
Beyond the world of you and me.
The sweat and the blood and strife–
Is that all there is to life?

I use to think that heaven was unquestionably true,
That God was up in heaven, and was watching what we do.
I thought if I did good then I would surely reach His throne.
But now I find that good is nothing more than just a preference of my own.
They tell us in philosophy
That that is all mythology.
It obviously couldn’t be–
A God is an absurdity,
And if there is no God, you see,
There can be no morality.
It’s only the majority
Preserving the society
It strikes me as rather odd:
Is that all there is to God?

I use to think that reason was the basis of my mind,
That reason was not doubted, and would not be for all time.
And so I did my thinking, and I thought through all my plans,
But reason is worth nothing now, because it’s clear that it is based on chance.
They tell us in psychology
That thinking works mechanic’ly:
A thought from our heredity
Is formed environmentally;
They tell us in anatomy
That thinking works electric’ly:
A jolt of electricity,
A slightly altered chemistry.
A brain can be built and bought.
Is that all there is to thought?

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”

Next song:  God Said It Is Good

#352: Why No One Cares About Your Songs

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #352, on the subject of Why No One Cares About Your Songs.

On a Christian musicians group someone posted the question, as near as I can reproduce it,

I have written 1200 songs; why does no one care?

I replied, mostly copied below, and apparently he benefited from my answer and deleted the question from his original post, but I kept thinking that what I wrote might have value to others.

*****

Wow. Tough topic.

I’ve been writing songs since 1968. Some of them are great, not just in my opinion; most are not great. It’s very difficult for the creator to evaluate the worth of his own material. Conan Doyle hated Sherlock Holmes; Isaac Newton believed he would be remembered for his works in theology. Identifying which are the good songs is a major challenge.

I remember a guy I knew who called me one Monday to report that on Friday night he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and over the weekend God had given him five hundred songs. I had to come hear them. I was not overwhelmed–he knew three chords and had to stop to change between them, sang almost monotone, and all his lyrics were direct passages from scripture without any work to make them poetic. I didn’t want to discourage the guy, but I’d heard better commercial jingles. (Not to denigrate commercial jingles.) Not to say your songs are all bad songs, but if you’ve written as many as you say I suspect a lot of them are below par.

But let’s suppose I’m wrong, and you’ve written 1200 great songs.

First, it’s been demonstrated that songs are not popular because they’re good; they’re popular because they’re popular. You don’t get a following because you write good songs, primarily (although if you write bad songs, that gets in the way). Your songs are loved because you have a following, because people already like you. Many of my songs are as good as some of the best out there, and most of the ones I still sing are better than a lot of the popular ones, but I have maybe a handful of people who really like them and most people don’t even bother to listen when I post free recordings of them. I’m not popular; that means my songs aren’t popular.

Second, have you any idea how many people have written how many original songs? They get posted here every day. One of my hobby careers is that I created a role playing game, one which got good reviews (O.K., it got bad reviews, too). I’m a known RPG theorist and writer; many of my articles get translated into French and republished abroad. For several years I participated in web sites that helped aspiring game designers. One thing we were constantly telling people was don’t worry about sharing your ideas: they aren’t worth stealing. I had to learn that about my music, that nobody was going to steal my songs because even great songs are not usually worth stealing. Everyone and his brother, or nearly so, has written a song and thinks that people should care. Songs are no longer significantly marketable. I can teach people to write them. Your great songs might be better than songs by famous recording artists played on the radio, but the songs people listen to are not the greatest songs, they’re only the most popular, and usually because the artists are popular.

Third, a friend once asked me why I, as the most promising musician he ever knew, didn’t make it. Well, there are a lot of reasons for that. Oddly, though, I once went to a Renaissance Faire and heard a band that was making a living doing genre music, had several CDs, and their lead male vocalist and rhythm guitar player was a guy we used to joke about in high school as the worst drummer in town. I asked him after the show whether of all the musicians who played in his garage anyone would have picked him to be the successful professional, and he laughed. You get there partly by chance, partly by hard work.

I was a CCM DJ in the early 80s, and I’ve been writing a series on the history of CCM/Rock from the time. You should read the stories of Chris Christian and Amy Grant. They both just about fell into their careers.

Finally, though, no one cares because that’s not where God is leading you, and He needs you not to care so much about all those great songs you’re writing and just use them where you are, how you can.

I hope this helps.

I want to give you those links, but while I was looking for them I found this one: web log post #163: So You Want to Be a Christian Musician.

This on Chris Christian.

And this on Amy Grant.

*****

I want to add one more link, web log post #107:  Miscellaneous Music Ministries, not for itself but for the links it contains to the series on music ministries.

#346: The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #346, on the subject of The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them”.

Reaching song number fourteen in our publication efforts, I should mention that this was actually tied for thirteenth, but I had to choose.  Last month’s Joined Together had been number 17 for the song itself and number 9 for the quality of the recording, and this one was number 8 on quality of recording but 18 on the ranking of the song, so I went with the ranking of the song.  Tristan did not list either song on his choices.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

I don’t recall when I wrote this, but I know it was early.  The five vocals on the recording were the parts as sung by The Last Psalm with Peggy Lisbona on the melody, backgrounds (SATB) by Ruth Mekita, Ann Hughes, yours truly, and Jeff Zurheide; we lost Ruth, Ann, and Jeff in June of 1974 and never had five vocals again, so the song dropped from the repertoire.  (It would be remiss of me if having named all those people I did not mention that we had John Mastick on drums and Andy Nilssen on bass, with Dave Oldham and Ralph Bruno doing sound and lighting.  Jeff and I played guitars; Peggy and I covered piano, but not on this song.)

Astute Bible students will recognize that the lyrics closely (but not exactly) follow Romans 10, where Paul is saying that the church needs to send people to preach the gospel so that the world can hear it and turn to Christ.  The first two verses echo the importance of delivering the message, while the bridge and final verse actually do so.  Remember, The Last Psalm ministered during that time when every Christian musician was expected to do evangelism, and so the song is evangelistic in part, although it is primarily an exhortation to evangelize.

I have one minor memory about this song.  When I was teaching it, Peggy said she could not possibly leap up to sing “tell me” in the middle of the chorus (it’s a jump from a low G to an octave higher), so I sang those two words, while she sang the rest of the melody.  I thought it silly at the time–she sang the higher G twice on the bridge–but my singers were volunteers and I wasn’t going to push them to do what they didn’t think they could do.

The song is here.

If We Don’t Tell Them.

So here are the words:

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

There are many many people, they’re in every place and time,
People of all continents and people of all kinds,
People of all races looking for some peace of mind.
Just call on the Lord and be saved.

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

Many people ev’rywhere are dying to be free.
Many people say that that’s the way they’re meant to be.
Many people look, but not so many seem to see:
Just call on the Lord and be saved.

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

Jesus came and gave His life,
He died for you and me.
He said that if He set you free,
Indeed you would be free!

Someday you will recognize He came and died for you.
Someday you may realize the things He said were true.
Then I hope that you will know exactly what to do:
Just call on the Lord and be saved.

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

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”

Next song:  I Can’t Resist Your Love