Tag Archives: Ministry

#457: The Song “Greater Love”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #457, on the subject of The Song “Greater Love”.

I included this in the nostalgic collection of Last Psalm songs recorded for Jes Oldham, although I’m not certain it was ever performed at a Last Psalm concert.  It was, however, written during that period.

In the summer of 1974, after my first year at Luther College, I landed a job working security at nearby Fairleigh Dickenson University (Teaneck/Hackensack Campus).  I was on the evening shift, and often given an area on the less congested Hackensack side of the river where there were, as I recall, five buildings, the College of Dentistry as one assignment and four others as the other, including what I think was called Barrington College.  One guard watched the Dentistry college and the other toured the other four buildings–at least two of which had pianos in them and no people after suppertime, so since my obligations were essentially to tour the four buildings once an hour I often practiced, if you can use that word for my tinkering, at one of the pianos.  I kept the job well into my sophomore year, and one night pulled these words from I Peter and used them to launch a song by including some thoughts from John as well.  I think I might have written a few songs in that setting, but this is the only one I can place there that I recorded.

It’s another vocals-over-midi-instruments recording, and I’m not sure why I wrote the vocals quite that low, but I managed it.

Greater Love.

So here are the lyrics.

If you address as Father the one impartial judge,
Conduct yourself in fear,
For He redeemed your life with his holy precious blood,
So live a life of love while you are here.

Love is more than friendly smiles.
Love always walks an extra mile.
Love isn’t feeling giddy inside:
Greater love hath no man than he who died.

If you address as Father the one impartial judge,
Conduct yourself in fear,
For He redeemed your life with his holy precious blood,
So live a life of love while you are here.

And if we call on Jesus’ name,
He doesn’t listen if we’re playing games.

Love will want to spread the word,
Tell ev’ryone who hasn’t heard.
Don’t keep the joy of God inside:
Greater love hath no man than He who died
Greater love hath no man than He who died

*****

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”

#454: In re: Comes the Storm

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #454, on the subject of In re:  Comes the Storm.

When the publisher dropped me a note asking if I would write a few words about a pending book of inspirational poetry, Comes the Storm by Deborah L. Kelly, I thought I was a bad fit for such a task; however, apparently they wanted someone with a theological background to write a few words, and they thought of me.  I hope they don’t regret it too badly.

No cover image available.

I have two problems going into this.  The one is that I have never found “inspirational” books at all inspiring.  Even “good” devotional books leave me cold.  I suppose I’m too intellectual for that sort of thing.

The other problem is that I’m very picky about poetry.  There are two kinds of poems that I enjoy.  The one is nonsense poetry, such as Ogden Nash or Lewis Carroll.  The other is traditional poetry with well-structued rhyme and meter, such as Robert Frost.  I believe with Chaucer that poetry is an art form for the ear, not the eye, and that prose does not become poetry simply because of the way the words are arranged on the page.  In short:

I do not believe
Seventeen syllables in
Three lines make a poem.

Oh star–the fairest one in sight–we grant your loftiness aright to some obscurity of cloud; it will not do to say of night, since dark is what brings out your light.  Some mystery becomes the proud, but to be wholly taciturn in your reserve is not allowed.


To my mind, if you can write it all out in a single line and recognize the poetry when you read it, it’s a poem; if you are scattering prose on a page to look pretty, it’s pretty prose.  It might be poetic, but I draw a sharp line between poetic prose and actual poetry; and I’ve written both.

So I had low expectations going into this.

Indeed, I am breaking one of my rules by writing a review of a book I never finished reading.  Part of that was the ebook format, and the fact that I saw no simple way to bookmark my place, and so I had to try to find where I was every time I had to reopen it; I expect that will be resolved in the published version.  Part of it, though, was that the modernist poetic style all blurred together, and while I could probably have defined differences between the poems, for practical purposes I often could not tell whether the one in front of me was one I had read before or not.  As I said, this was not at all my sort of book.

On the other hand, it was often well written.  I frequently felt as if I were reading passages from the Psalms or Wisdom books or some of the Prophets.  If inspirational books appeal to you, this probably should be on your list.  It comes through as sincere and devoted.

Since I was asked to review this based on the fact that I am, in some sense, a theologian, I ought to say something about the theology.  I am of the belief that everyone is wrong about something, including me, and that part of our spiritual growth is recognizing our errors and attempting to correct them.  I have never known anyone with whom I was in complete agreement about everything, and frankly I do not expect to do so in this life.  That said, while I did not agree with everything in this book, it was all within the bounds of orthodox Christian belief.  As long as the reader does not take it as divinely inspired scripture, it is as sound as one could ask–and I would say that about my own writings.

Take that with however many grains of salt you wish.

#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.

#438: The Song “Even You”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #438, on the subject of The Song “Even You”.

It is difficult to know what to write about this song, because I wrote about it before.  Back when it was written, I posted web log post #181:  Anatomy of a Songwriting Collaboration, in which I described how beginning with the memory of something Jack Haberer posted in our high school yearbook I engaged my youngest son Adam in constructing this song.  Here I offer this recording, done in my living room with an acoustic guitar in competition with an air cleaner, not long after a hospitalization so I would have a recorded copy.  There is an earlier recording on another web site somewhere, linked from the previous article, in which Adam is playing the piano.

Tristan did not mention the song on his list; I suspect he had never heard it, as it was fairly new and he was not at our house much.  I placed the song itself at twenty-ninth, and the recording, flawed as it is, at thirty-second, which tied it with the previous song, Trust Him Again, at thirty-second overall.  The progressions were mostly somewhat common, and although I liked the lyrics I admit that there are spots where I’m not at all sure what Adam meant.  But it is a good song, and I’ve performed it at least once or twice live despite the fact that I rarely get to perform live anymore.

Even You.

So here are the lyrics.

If deep in your heart you remember when,
Did you want to be born again again?
The good news is the news is true:
Jesus comes to make all things new,
Even you, even you, even you, even you.

There in your mind when you feel abused,
Don’t you get tired of being used and used?
Darkness falls, then the light breaks through.
Jesus comes to make all things new,
Even you, even you, even you, even you.

You want what you want.
You get the joy, he took the pain.
You get what you get:
Redemption sustains, sin is a stain.

Ask yourself why you want to sin,
Why you lose; you were made to win.  To win
Victory, and to make it through.
Jesus comes to make all things new,
Even you, even you, even you, even you.

Thank God for what He’s done
To set us free.
He gave His only Son
For you and 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:  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”

Next song:  Fork in the Road

#436: The Song “Trust Him Again”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #436, on the subject of The Song “Trust Him Again”.

I am not entirely certain when I wrote this.  I am inclined to think that it was during or just after my time at WNNN, which makes it mid to late 80s.  I do know that the only time it was performed the way I had envisioned, with four vocals taking turns on the verses and singing in harmony on the choruses, was at Scott and Sue Kirkegard’s house near Freehold, New Jersey, before they moved to upstate New York.  I don’t know the dates for that, but again I think that puts it in the mid 80s.  This recording was me, live in I think my kitchen this time; it’s a WMA file, so it might take a bit of download time.

The song came from an idea, the notion that we trust God now because we see that He has been trustworthy in the past.  We see it in the life of Abraham, very specifically and clearly.  I didn’t want to make it too personal, though, so I wondered what I could cite that would demonstrate that God is trustworthy, and for some reason I struck upon creation.  The seven days of creation would give me too many verses, unless I covered two days in each chorus; that gave me an extra half a chorus, and when I got there I decided that I should cover the new creation with that last couplet. From there I built the verses as something more personal, individual, so that the song would say that I trusted Jesus with this part of my life, and I’m going to trust Him again because of all He has done beyond that.

Tristan did not include this song on his list.  I listed it twenty-seventh for the quality of the music and lyrics, and thirty-fourth for the quality of the recording and performance.  This landed it at number 32 on the list.

What held the song back as a song is primarily its length. I often considered whether there was a way to cut the second verse, but once I was committed to the creation structure I couldn’t cut the second chorus.  Also, I am often uncomfortable with songs or parts of songs that talk about how much faith I have, because I don’t always have quite as much faith as the words suggest.  But it’s a good song, and it was put on the repertoire list for 7dB (Tyler liked the way it stopped and started), although we never actually got to the point of learning it.

As to the performance, it really is extremely difficult to do as a solo piece, and it loses so much without the other voices.  You can hear me trying to get enough breath for it before the first chord, and trying to catch my breath after the last one.  The song is relentlessly demanding when you can’t split the verses between four singers, not to mention that the lyrics are not entirely easy to keep straight.  All I can say of this performance is I managed to get through it.

Trust Him Again.

So here are the lyrics.

I trusted Jesus as the savior of my soul.
I trusted Him to make me pure and make me whole.
I know that Jesus said He’d take away my sin,
And so I trusted Jesus to begin.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the day and the night.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who died that may be made right.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
He will free us from sin
If we just let Him in.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the sky and the rain.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who for us endured so much pain,
So I’ll trust Him again.

I trusted Jesus when He said He’d make me well.
I trusted Him, for I was sure He could dispel
The sickness and the symptoms, and my health renew,
And so I trusted Him to see me through.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the sea and the land.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who frees us by His mighty hand.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
And the Bible decrees
He will take our disease.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the moon and the sun.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who died and the victory won.
So I’ll trust that it’s done.

I trusted Jesus when He said He’d be my guide.
I trusted Jesus to remain beside, beside my side.
He knows the way to keep me safe, if I’ll obey,
And so I trusted Him to lead the way.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the fish and the bird.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who authored the wonders we’ve heard.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
Since He knows what will be
He prepares you and me.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the beasts of the earth.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Lord Who gives life and Who gives us new birth.
Give the trust that He’s worth.

I trusted Jesus when He said He’d take my place.
I trusted Him to live within me by His grace.
I know that sinless is what He will always be,
And so I trusted Him to live through me.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the Sabbath of rest.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Lord who has given us His very best.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
He’s as close as a prayer
And has power to spare.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who died and Who rose up again.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who lives to give freedom to men,
So I’ll trust Him again;
I will trust Him again.

Again, again, again, again, again.

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”

Next Song:  Even You

#434: Foolish Wisemen

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #434, on the subject of Foolish Wisemen.

For most Americans, Christmas is over.  Many took down the decorations on Boxing Day, and few will leave them up past New Year.  Yet this isn’t really about Christmas.  After all, we know that the wise men did not actually find Jesus in a manger in a stable; we are told they found him in a house.  Had they arrived and given gifts of significant value, Joseph and Mary would have had to offer a lamb with their two birds as an offering for her cleansing, but we are told that the couple delivered the poor man’s pair of birds.  Unless we think that the gifts were paltry tokens, they had not yet been delivered in that first week, and not before the couple made a trip to the temple.  Some of us celebrate Epiphany, which is a somewhat random number of days after a somewhat randomly assigned date of birth, but makes the point that the wise men didn’t get there that first night.  But that’s not what this is about, either.

Rather, I am recalling Balaam, who in Numbers 24:17 prophesied in the famous words “There shall a star from Jacob come forth”.  The Israelites preserved those words, and recognized within them a messianic prediction.  However, Balaam was not an Israelite; he was from Mesopotamia, the land whose people became the Medes and Persians, east of Israel.

It seems that they, too, preserved those words.  Matthew makes the connection for us, that wise men, scholars who studied the books and the stars, came from the east, which would probably mean Persian astrologers, because of a star–probably the star predicted by their ancestor Balaam.  It didn’t need to be a big, bright, obvious star; it needed to be a configuration of celestial objects that they understood to mean the birth of the ruler predicted by their own ancestor.  Seeing the star, they came to bring gifts to the baby, and to honor him.

Then they left, and we read nothing more about them.

Of course, it would be three decades before Jesus worked the miracle of redemption, and another several years before the faith was pushed out of Jerusalem into the rest of the world.  Whether those scholars still lived we don’t know.  But there is this question:  did these scholars who were aware of the arrival of the Anointed at His birth, who made a great effort to find Him and gave Him valuable gifts, ever do anything else, learn anything more, actually come to faith in Him?

And that question then transfers to the people of our time.  How many celebrated the birth of Christ, one way or another, recently, spending significant amounts of money and time and effort on the holiday, who never returned to see what more He had done?  The deliverer came, and those needing deliverance honored that arrival; but then they left, never to be delivered.

That’s sad.