I may have been a little testy with my last post.
Stu, parent of one, told me that he thought my post displayed exactly how much I don’t know about what it’s like to have children. Perhaps a fair point, I don’t really care. The crux of the matter for me isn’t about the difference between having children or not having children. The reality of the situation is that everyone goes through a period of singleness and childlessness. The difficult part is that those who enter in to the experience of marriage and children, have inevitably the right to say – I have experienced both, therefore my opinion or my experience justifies a preference to considering myself right. Again, statistically it can’t be argued. It’s difficult for any parent to make this case without sounding as if they have made a judgement that reflects on both their experience and a childless person’s lack of experience. All this is to be expected and is part of the joys of life.
I guess I was reflecting in a personal way on the manner in which marriage and family status is so highly prized, preferred and condoned within our christian society, and that occassionally it can result in unfair expectations on those outside that equation.
Blah Blah Blah. So I had a tizzy. Big Stinkin’ Deal.
Queens Birthday Weekend
But the weekend was fine. I bunked in with the Paremoremo family and we had a good time.. especially at 5.30am when Liam woke up and was chattering away. His brother was heard declaring in a loud voice “Liam, GO TO SLEEP, it’s the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!”, followed not too long after with “Liam, stop being such a stupid BABY.”
Challenge…All Entries Welcome
so .. si-the-fly-guy and i have started a business and we are looking for something creative and cool, with a hint of mystery and wonder to put on the back of our business cards. so we have a little challenge for some of our creative friends..
take these words below and incorporate them into a 100 word something on any subject in any form.
the winner will be taken to dinner on us as well as have their poem-prose-creation included on our card, published and credited on our website. all entries will be published online.
ready for your exciting challenge? we certainly hope so.
we can’t think of anything more fun that including our creative friends in this new venture.
whaddya think? hopefully it will be the first of many exciting projects we get to work on with you!
here’s the ‘must-include-list’
Post-Conversations With Paul Windsor.. On Hymns And Things
So .. as I am ruminating, still well caught up in “when peace like a river” .. some ideas spring to mind. When I engage with these hymns, it can be a long and drawn out process. I soak in the words and the language, then the stories. Have you noticed how many of these hymns have stories? So rarely are the favourite and the best ones, simply those that were written ‘because’. They are written ‘out of’ and I like that a lot. Too many of our present day songs are ‘accidental’ or ‘incidental’.
“I was sitting at the piano and these words came out.”
“we needed a song for communion this week so I wrote this.”
“I had to write one more song for the album, and it needed to be soft & mellow.”
“We were doing a teaching series on Grace, so we needed to have some songs about that.”
All of the above I suppose are fine reasons to write a song, but when a song has a story .. well I like that better. Much like some of my favourite and best psalms are those embedded in the story of David’s life, his present circumstance and the ongoing story of the People of God. I love the ones that say .. “I remember when…”.
So, typically, I start in the story of where it came from. Digesting the words next .. unpacking subtleties and words that have such specific meanings that it give colour and life to a phrase. I love words … and too often in modern day language, everyday language we shun the larger, more precise words that seem overbearing. But I love using the exact right words in a phrase to convey an exact and precise feeling, thought, conviction, gratitude! Too often, our lazy use of language leads to inaccurate, generalised praise or unexacting prayers .. and it seems that it where so much of what we say becomes bland, cliche and unripe.
My dictionary is like a timeline of my life. In the beginning it was the small and simple words that barely require the services of such a catalogue that comprised the giddy syntax of a 5 year old. As I grew, a voraciousness for literature meant that I required to carry my dictionary with me on every family holiday. Yes, I still read Trixie Belden, and even occassionally desperate times called for other unmentionable novels ‘written for teenagers’. What I enjoyed most though, were Red Books. Series of classic editions that my parents had collected over the years of our early childhood, in hopes that we would become great readers. Jane Austen, Dickens, Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Longfellow, Tennyson, Burns. My dictionary is earmarked, lined, filled with pencil marks and dates.
Audacity … (Austen, Persuasion 1992)
Words are a mark of understanding and maturity, speaking age, knowledge and meaning. So these hymns with their rich language seem wiser, more compelling and fruitful than these modern day songs that satisfy themselve with adjectives like ‘great’ when great is used to commend a rugby try, a good effort, a piece of indifferent good news. One cannot really understand the word ‘great’ until it is put next to words like “fervour, faultless, prevailing, boundless, glorious and triumphant”.
So the words are consuming. Unpacking and repacking them, bundling them together in all the possible meanings and feelings the author may have been wraught with. Then the melodies themselves .. complex and chaotic with harmony and counter-melody. By the time I have my head around the words enough to bring meaning to the feeling of a song, and then bend my fingers around chord structures so carefully constructed .. I am soaked in the song.
And the song is just the beginning, for then I find that I am soaked in God’s glory. The more I roll the words around in my mouth, the more I play with the melody and the phrasing, rewriting into contextual language, then backwards and forwards until I find the right place for the song to sit … the more I find myself soaked in the emotive of the writer, and the response of God to the words.
“behold me standing at the door and hear me pleading evermore”
Hmm… yes. There is much in these hymns that can keep me going for days and days. The rebirth of scripture refreshed and renewed in my mind and my heart…
so in my thinking, and in my creative valve that needs a pressure release from time to time…
I was thinking that in addition to recording some of these hymns that sustain me in devotions and depth.. we should write a companion/study/guide/exploration map.. don’t you think that would be fun? To choose the best ones.. the ones that really bring us to life a little, the ones that light up with fragrant verses – and unpack them, and explore them.. and then give that away to others to explore and enjoy as well?
What an amazing tool and resource that would be for worship leaders and songwriters to really grapple with issues of modern worship ideology and theology! What a deep, rich reward for those who feel their hymns are maligned and ignored by the ‘family friendly’ service.. to bring them back into circulation and life and colour and vibrancy .. what a precious new door to worship teachings, liturgy, history and devotion for young people and young adults so desperately hungry for a ‘worship fix’ that really satisfies.