Tag Archives: Ministry

#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.

#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.

#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

#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

#349: The Song “I Can’t Resist Your Love”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #349, on the subject of The Song “I Can’t Resist Your Love”.

This fifteenth song on our list was started by my wife.  It has to have been 1979 or 1980, as I remember her sitting in the dining room of the apartment we had in Pennsville working on it.  She was stuck for a chord and asked for help, and suddenly I was contributing words and music.  She didn’t like all my contributions, and we still argue about who wrote what, but ultimately we were pleased with the outcome.  I listed this the number twenty song on my list, and although there are a few places where I didn’t get the vocals exactly right (and embarrassingly it is the tenor–my part–that has the mistakes) I put it number 11 on performance/recording quality, probably largely for the vocals.  Tristan ranked it tied for fifteen.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

It was always envisioned with at least four vocals, which is what is used here, a guitar providing a fifth at the end.  We used this as our closing song in TerraNova, where we had five vocals, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sing the soprano (which was an added part anyway, as Debbie Kregger was not an original member).  It is a rock anthem, with the intention that the ending chorus would keep repeating more than it does in the recording, but it’s a long song with two instrumental verses (one of them done with contrapuntal vocals) and two bridges, and for the recording I thought it was long enough with four choruses.  (It is a short chorus.)

My wife gets full credit for the concept, that the world is very alluring, but ultimately the love of Christ outpulls anything offered elsewhere.  She also gets credit for the truly unique rhyme and meter scheme on on the verses.

The song is here.  It is again a wav file, and so a large download, but I think worth it.

I Can’t Resist Your Love.

So here are the words:

I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

So many times I see
The world is rushing by me,
And everything I see
Looks so good.
I only want a part–
I feel it tug on my heart,
And that is when I start
To wish I could,

But I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

People are getting high,
And life is passing me by,
And so I wonder why
You call my name.
I’d like to be a star
And drive a fancy sports car,
But I know Who You are
And why you came,

And I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

And I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

I don’t need you for your money:
I will serve you without pay.
‘Though you may think it sounds funny,
I just wanna hear you say,

“Welcome home thou good and faithful servant;
Over few things you have proven true.
I will make you ruler over many.
Enter in the joy I have for you.”

Now when I look around
I see the joy that I’ve found
While all the world is bound
In chains of sin.
They need to turn to You–
If they could see what You’d do,
Then they would know You’re true,
And let you in.

How I wish that they could hear me
Telling them You are the way.
If I let Your Spirit steer me,
One day I will hear You say,

“Welcome home thou good and faithful servant;
Over few things you have proven true.
I will make you ruler over many.
Enter in the joy I have for you.”

I thought that I was free,
But You reached out and drew me,
And though I tried to flee, where could I go?
I couldn’t resist Your love,
The kind of stuff I dream of.
I want you far above
All things I know.

And I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

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”

Next Song:  I Use to Think

#345: Be Ye Glad

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #345, on the subject of Be Ye Glad.

I want to put this band down as one of the great ensembles of the eighties, despite the fact that they kept morphing into something else.

Their self-titled debut album in 1978 was promising.  Ed Nalle was the original lead vocalist and as far as I know remained so giving his characteristic vocal quality to the band.  They picked up lead guitarist Wayne Farley from Found Free, and give that band credit for helping them launch.  I don’t have specific memories of that disc, but that I expected to see more from them–and I did.

When Beyond a Star came out in 1980, it was obvious that these were musicians of the highest caliber.  I remember in an interview they told me that the opening a capella cut The Reason had forty-some vocal tracks; this portended much about their future, as it displayed their brilliant vocal arranging.  But from there it moved into Take a Stand, and the fact that the entire band was music college graduates came through as they gave us a sound very like the band Chicago Transit Authority, a sound which continued through the album as it moved to the title song Beyond a Star.

The album was solidly aimed at the exhortation of Christians, a defining quality of much of the music of the decade.  The title song, for example, is a call to stop looking at celebrity Christians and look to Jesus.  This is followed by the mellower and perhaps slightly eerie Away, and the A-side closes with a frenetic Wayne Farley composition, Sing a New Song, not found in its original form on the web.

The B-side opens with what is probably the rockiest song on the disk, again strongly reminiscent of Chicago, Iron Sharpens Iron.  It then mellows to the introspective Lying, and picks up a bit into the moderate but again rocky Lonely Love.  In that interview, Ed told me that the people in this song were people they knew, one of them the mother of a member in the band, with events and situations that really happened.  There is then another frenetic Wayne Farley composition, It Is Good.  (Wayne left the band following this album, and was not at the interview.)  The disk wraps with a wonderful quiet vocal-driven Pierce My Ear the original version of which does not appear to be on the web, although this later a capella version does.

The next album, Captured In Time, shifted to a more commercial sound, that is, sounding more like all the other contemporary Christian bands of the time.  It is difficult to fault them for it; a lot of bands did this, because it sold records.  Unfortunately as a result the only song I remember from it (which was not the song their distributors the Benson group was pushing) is the wonderful quiet closer Be Ye Glad (there is also a later a capella version of this).

Perhaps annoyingly, shortly after this album reached us we also received, from the same distributors, Noel Paul Stookey’s Band and Bodyworks, which also had a recording of this on it.  He’s further down the list, though, so we’ll hold off on those comments.

Eventually Glad released an entirely a capella album, and it went gold.  More than half their work thereafter was a capella, and quite good, as this version of The Second Chapter of Acts classic Easter Song demonstrates.  They were also famous for something originally released to radio stations and appearing in several different versions over time, but the version I knew included on their fourth release, No Less Than All, under the title That Hymn Thing or Variations on a Hymn.  It presents something of a music history by taking an old hymn melody with its original secular words, singing the early Christian version, and then rewriting it in several styles running through time up to how they would do the song in their own 1980s rock style.  Musically it’s a lot of fun.

According to their discography they continued releasing albums up through the year 2000, but became known for their a capella recordings rather than their contemporary/rock sound.

*****

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 Andraé 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.

#340: The Song “A Man Like Paul”

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

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

The Apostle Paul by Abraham Bloemaert

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Man Like Paul.

So here are the words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

Previous web log song posts:

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

Next song:  Joined Together

#335: Bob Bennett’s First Matters

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #335, on the subject of Bob Bennett’s First Matters.

Bob Bennett’s debut album, First Things First, reached the radio station not too long after I did, and I was immediately greatly impressed.  From the opening cut Carpenter Gone Bad he shot straight for the mind, with solid arguments for believing in Christ set to comfortable light folk-rock music heavy on the guitar picking.  My fond memories include Whistling in the Dark, You’re Welcome Here, I Belong to You, and the closing Healings.  This was a gentle but heavily intellectual collection, and I was captivated by it immediately.

When an artist or band releases a great first album, the fear is that they have have done their best work, and that which is ahead won’t measure up.  Yet three years later he appeared again with a disk that was in one sense completely different, and in another a great continuation of what he had already done.  From the smooth processed sound and emotional message of the opening title song, Matters of the Heart again impressed as it talked about life in songs like Falling Stars, 1951, A Song About Baseball, Madness Dancing, Together All Alone, Beggar, and Come and See, then wrapping up like bookends with Heart of the Matter.  He had topped his debut impressively.

What really surprised me today was how many of these songs I remembered–not just recognized, but could sing along in sections of the words.  They were well written and got inside powerfully.  I have omitted songs that I would include simply because I have included so many from two albums.  Somewhere I have both of these on vinyl; I’m going to have to find them and transfer them to CD so I can listen to them in the car.  They are great collections throughout.

That was the last I heard from him, but he continued releasing albums every few years, the most recent in 2016 making ten in all.  Everything I heard impressed me, and that’s rare.

*****

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 Andraé 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.

#329: CCM Guys at the Beginning

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #329, on the subject of CCM Guys at the Beginning.

Last time we covered the ladies of the eighties, a conglomerate article to help us get through everyone I think ought to be mentioned.  This time we’re doing the same with some of the guys.  This is a very broad shot here.  Some of these gentlemen had virtually faded into obscurity by the time I reached the radio station, others were barely on the scene when I left it.  Undoubtedly some of these people have a much bigger place in contemporary Christian music than would appear from my coverage of them; they simply weren’t that significant during the years when I was immersed in the industry.

I am starting with Randy Matthews, because he was someone known to me for one song long before I reached the radio station, from whom I never heard anything else.  Yet his Didn’t He, released in 1973, was a classic in Christian rock music maybe before there were contemporary Christian radio stations.

For years I knew of Randy Stonehill only as one of the early Christian musicians connected to Larry Norman.  I still don’t know any of his early work.  However, when I was at the station we received his album The Sky is Falling, and for some reason we focused on the rather goofy song Bad Fruit as the song to play.  I remember nothing else from his career.

Richie Furay was a very successful secular rock musician before he started doing Christian material, having been a founding member of both Buffalo Springfield and Poco.  I remember his Myrrh releases I’ve Got a Reason and Seasons of Change, but not well enough to recognize any of the titles on them; I find very few in video form, and none that I remember.

Darrell Mansfield also appears here as a name I remember without any other information.  He released several records with his self-named band, and was in the band Gentle Faith.  I’m not sure we ever had any of his work at the station.

We did have a couple albums from Denny CorrellStandin’ In the Light, How Will They Know, and Something I Believe In.  His bluesrock sound is captured in this song, the last cut on the last of those albums, Changin’ My Heart.

Mylon LeFevre was born into one of those Southern Gospel family bands, and sang with them.  His first song was picked up by Elvis, and then by many others, making him wealthy overnight; he sang with other bands, but in the sixties was attempting to launch something in the vein of Christian contemporary/rock music, for which there was not yet a market despite the rising Jesus movement.  He became involved in drugs which nearly killed him, and then returned to a clean life, and in 1982 released the first album with his new band, Broken Heart, entitled A Brand New Start.  I was unable to find any recognized cuts from this online, but the band continued producing albums through 1990.

I encountered them on stage at Creation ’82, where I was working stage crew and reporting for the radio station.  In setting up the band had placed a small amplifier behind LeFevre for his electric guitar; there were two other guitarists in the band who were working with the sound crew.  The head of the sound crew asked about plugging LeFevre’s guitar directly into the main system, which the guitarist declined, and then the suggestion was made that the amp could be miked, again declined with the explanation that LeFevre’s drug use had seriously damaged his ability to play, and the guitar was really more of a prop so he would have something in his hands while he sang.  Still, the band was impressive, and he could still sing.

Every morning during the times when we weren’t twenty-four hours our radio station came on the air with Johnny Fisher, and his All Day Song from his 1974 release Still Life, reportedly his third album but his first on a recognized label (Light).  I remember the release of his 1982 Dark Horse album on Myrrh, which I remember was good, but can’t find any cuts from it online; in a drawer somewhere I have a promotional T-shirt from that album which no longer fits.  I might have the album itself on vinyl somewhere, but I’m afraid I don’t have a good catalog of my record collection.

Carman first reached us with his self-titled Priority Records release in 1982.  It had a neo-rock-‘n’-roll sound reminscent of Elvis, of which Some-O-Dat was the memorable cut.  Then sometime within the next year we received a promotional single of a live version of a really clever and rapidly popular song, Sunday’s On the Way.  Not long after an album was released with that title, but the studio version of the title song lacked the life and excitement of the live single, which does not appear to be available anywhere.  The link here is to a similar live performance worth hearing.  I put this down as the best song Carman ever did, although I don’t know most of his career for which there is an album release as late as 2014.

Jazz fusion guitarist James Vincent had released four albums through secular labels before Sparrow Records delivered his 1980 disk Enter In to us.  The title song typified the style, and several other songs from the album are available in online videos.

According to his discography, Tim Sheppard had a couple albums out in the 70s before the release of 1979’s Songtailor, and a couple more in the 80s plus some appearances with other artists in collections, and then one more release in 2017.  I only ever heard Songtailer, and I only remember one song from it–but I remember it, one of the great songs that I still sing in the car decades later, The Fiddler.

Joe English made his name as the drummer for Paul McCartney’s Wings, but in 1980 he released the first of five Christian solo albums (with many often well-known supporting artists), Lights In the World.  I vaguely remember songs like Get Ready, and that for the time the production values were impressive.

I have the impression that Bob Ayala was very popular in other places.  I remember the album cover from Joy By Surprise, which had very strong Narnia imagery.  I was also impressed by the more subtle Narnia imagery of the next album, Wood Between the Worlds.  Unfortunately, I recognize none of the song titles.

Wayne Watson also goes down as someone popular elsewhere, but was one of those “just another solo act” guys for us.  However, his cover of Touch of the Master’s Hand still brings tears to my eyes when I try to sing it, and his later New Lives for Old, while not as memorable, was still good.

I’m not quite old enough to remember Dion and the Belmonts, but I do remember his 1961 rock-‘n’-roll solo hit Runaround SueDion DiMucci had a long and reasonably successful secular career, and then in 1980 hit the Christian contemporary field with the Dayspring release Inside Job.  I am embarrassed to say that I don’t remember any of the song titles from that or the next two albums, both of which were sent to the radio station while I was there, because I not only played cuts from them, I attended a small concert at a local church and had a chat with him afterwards, which I only remember as something we did (my wife with me at the time).  I do remember that he was good, talented and worth hearing.  He has continued to release albums nearly to the present, of which I of course know nothing.

What I remember about Michael W. Smith is that from the beginning with The Michael W. Smith Project in 1983 my mind connected him to Amy Grant.  I can’t even tell you why.  I can tell you that he is still around, and I hear him on the local Christian stations from time to time with new material.  The track lists from his early albums ring no bells.

I’m sure there were a lot of other male vocalists at the time; these are the ones that came to mind for whom I didn’t think I could do a whole article, but I’ve got more on the list ahead.

*****

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 Andraé 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.

#328: The Song “Still Small Voice”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #328, on the subject of The Song “Still Small Voice”.

I liked this song, ranking it number 7 for quality of the song; Tristan had it tied for his number 5.  The problem was in the quality of the recording and performance, which was hampered by a number of foolish mistakes.

There is a version of this available on Collision Of Worlds which is probably better than this.  I opted against it because Jonathan sings it, and while it’s good, that was 2012 and he was a much better singer a few years later–and although I’m including some recordings from that album, it didn’t seem right to use one I didn’t sing and he didn’t sing quite as well as he would later.

The problem was I didn’t have another recording that wasn’t buried in a long concert tape, and I needed one.  I recorded this in my living room, and made a couple of rookie mistakes.  One is that I was a mere few days out of the hospital and not fully recovered, and it’s a demanding song to do solo; I’m not sure it’s a great performance.  The other is that I recorded it on a recorder with automatic level control (ALC) in a room in which an air purifier was running.  The air purifier wasn’t really noticeable as background noise, but when the music stops it comes to the foreground fairly quickly.  I should have anticipated that, but I didn’t realize that the recorder had ALC (which I also should have realized).  I think I was twelve or thirteen when Jay Fedigan and I recorded something on a cassette deck with ALC, and we hit a cold ending which was immediately followed by the ticking of a clock we had not even realized was in the room.  Put it down as stupid of me.

The recording is here.  It’s not a bad recording, but that I wrote the song, with help from Tyler Choniger, for 7dB, where we had three vocals, and so it’s missing at least two, not to mention a rhythm guitar and other instruments.  We only had two of us singing for the Collision recording, although we were going to add a third.  If I were doubletracking in a studio I would make it four.  As it stands, You’ll have to imagine at least one more.

I had written most of the chorus, but for the last line, when I brought it to Tyler, and I thought it was going to echo some of the ideas from Walkin’ In the Woods, about churches failing to deliver what people need.  Tyler suggested that the opening words should close the chorus, and then I started writing the verse.  He wanted to include the D69add4, so we slid up to it in the middle of the verse; I thought that sliding from the CM7 to the D69add4 was becoming almost cliche (I did it in Holocaust, that I clearly remember) and so on the bridge I decided to go the other direction, which gave us the descending feeling in the chord progression, which went well with the overall theme of struggles in the song and gave the idea for the “sinking feeling”.  Its history is told in slightly more detail on the Collision website notes on the song.

In the original version we counted out the beats for a measure’s pause after the bridge.  Jonathan didn’t like that, so eventually I changed it so that he would start that last chorus when he felt it and we would all come in on his cue.  That’s more the way I do it in this recording.

The vocal cadenza at the end was intended to be a freeform ad lib cadenza, and I hope it sounds like that, but I don’t really do improvisational cadenzas all that well and find I do much better by experimenting with the music and writing one.  Thus this is the cadenza as I always sing it, although I suppose technically if someone wanted to sing something different that would be within the parameters of the song.  I happen to like this one very much.

Still Small Voice.

So here are the words:

There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.

The pressures of life are closing in;
Temptations are luring me to sin.
My problems are tearing me apart.
I feel like I’m dying in my heart.

There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
It’s not in the thunder, not in the pyre,
Not in the lightning, not in the fire,
Not in the sermon, not in the choir.
There’s a still small voice.

The deadlines are coming way too fast;
Before I can reach them they have passed.
I’m struggling to get things up to speed,
With too many mouths I need to feed.

There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
It’s not in the thunder, not in the pyre,
Not in the lightning, not in the fire,
Not in the sermon, not in the choir.
There’s a still small voice.

I know that God is on the throne,
And yet I have this sinking feeling.
I know He calls me for His own,
And so I reach to Him for healing.

There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
It’s not in the thunder, not in the pyre,
Not in the lightning, not in the fire,
Not in the sermon, not in the choir.

  There’s a still small voice, God is calling to me
There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
  Ev’rything is in control.
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
  He is on the throne, calling for His own, He will not abandon me,
There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
  He calls my name, He leads me on, tells me where to go,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
  I can hear that still, small, still small voice speaking to me speaking to my
There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
  Soul, the still small voice of God, Holy Spirit, let me hear your
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
  Voice, loud and clear, small and still, from the heart of God,
There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
  The still small voice I hear.
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
It’s not in the thunder, not in the pyre,
Not in the lightning, not in the fire,
Not in the sermon, not in the choir.
There’s a still small voice.

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”

Next song:  Convinced