Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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All my fountains are in You

August 23, 2011

"Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs." Isaiah 35: 6,7

All My Fountains – Chris Tomlin

This dry and desert land

I tell myself, “Keep walking on”

Hear something up ahead

Water falling like a song

An everlasting stream

Your river carries me home

Let it flow, let if flow

A flood for my soul

A well that never will run dry

I’ve rambled on my own

Never believing I would find

An everlasting stream

Your river carries me home

Let it flow, let it flow

Open the heavens

Come Living Water

All my fountains are in You

You’re strong like a river

Your love is running through

All my fountains are in You

Come on and rain down on us

Rain down on us, Lord

© 2011 sixsteps Music / worshiptogether.com Songs / Vamos Publishing Sweater Weather (Admin. at EMICMGPublishing.com) (ASCAP)

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Open up the Sky – Deluge

September 16, 2010

I love this song! I had never heard of this band or heard of this song until I bought a compilation of worship songs on CD recently, but I love it. Pure unadulterated worship of the Divine. A beautiful, wasteful, exuberant, gracious pouring out of love for the Loving God. 

I love the lyrics:

 Open up the sky
Fall down like rain
We don’t want blessings
We want you

‘We don’t want blessings….we want YOU!’

I don’t know if people can relate to that, but these lyrics express a wonderful idea in the history of religions that people would pursue God, not because of what favours or blessings he can do in their lives (as good and important as this is), but because they want…they hunger…they desire…INTIMACY with the Divine. It’s really a holy idea. A sublime concept that us…broken…frustrated…foolish and sometimes self-indulgent human beings would use our faculties, our human capacities to cry out to God:

“Put aside the blessings, Lord!

Let’s forget the good things you give us!

Can we just have closeness to YOU?

Can we just be close…united even to you?”

In the Bible stories, Moses cried out to God in the desert on Mount Sinai:

“Let me see your face?!”

This is the spirit of this song…a desire for intimacy with the Holy One…a longing for  a purity of love….a longing to perceive the expressive, healing countenance of the Invisible One.

 Let it be so on earth as it is in heaven! Thank you for this song…for the great music and beautiful lyrics.
Here are the lyrics below:

 Open up the sky by Deluge

Our beloved Father
Please come down and meet us
We are waiting on Your touch
Open up the heavens
Shower down Your presence
We respond to Your great love

We won’t be satisfied with anything ordinary
We won’t be satisfied at all

Open up the sky
Fall down like rain
We don’t want blessings
We want you
Open up the sky
Fall down like fire
We don’t want anything but you

Our beloved Jesus
We just want to see
You In the glory of Your light
Earthly things don’t matter
They just fade and shatter
When were touched by love divine

Here we go let’s go to the throne
The place that we belong
Right into His arms

Music and lyrics by Deluge

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Greenbelt Festival – August Bank Holiday Weekend, 2010

August 31, 2010
Welcome to Greenbelt 2010

  

I have just returned from an inspiring and really encouraging weekend at this year’s Greenbelt festival at Cheltenham racecourse. It’s been for me a truly wonderful time, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I love Greenbelt because there’s the chance for just a few days of the year to be able to soak up the eclectic carnival atmosphere of thousands and thousands of people from  many different traditions and viewpoints gathering together for a celebration of art, music, poetry, politics and God in one large event. The shere variety of people from dribbling and chortling babies to children, to adolescents and young adults, to the worldly worn middle-aged and the open-minded mature and elderly – the sections of society represented at Greenbelt don’t fit the picture of normal church congregations – here is a much more varied and encouragingly multicoloured spectrum of people.   

Beauty in arts, craft and good conversation

Secondly, there’s the great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends or to catch up with family, old friends and colleagues in a uniquely open-minded, open-hearted, open spirited and celebratory environment. I have met numerous people this year – particular leaders who made a lastingly good impression on you at a time of growth and exploration in your life and faith; good friends you once worked closely  with on experimental projects who you have since lost contact with after you and they have moved to different parts of the country. There have also been those serendipitous meetings with people who were complete strangers, but over the course of the weekend and several coffees, wine and beer in disposable paper cups and some great conversations have become like soul friends and kindred spirits. As a Christian, an event like Greenbelt is so stimulating because there are so many possibilities – opportunities for gift, grace, humour, heart-felt emotion, tears and laughter. 

Colourful flags decorate the Cheltenham race course grandstand

A rainbow coloured celebration - people from all walks of life participate in Greenbelt

Perhaps, equally important to all the opportunities to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, and if not more significant than seeing the wide variety of people who find help, grace and a sense of deep belonging through relationship with God and Jesus, are the occasions of divine ‘eruption’ that break into our ordinary lives through great speakers and artistic, musical events centred on giving worth and valuing God. For me personally, there were a number of occasions where I felt I met not just with a well crafted and intelligent, thoughtful talk, but experienced an encounter with  the Living God – the Divine power, presence and personalities that created the whole of our awe-inspiring and breathtaking universe.   

At 9am on saturday morning, bleary eyed and un-caffienated I managed to drag myself from my tent to find an unoccupied space of green grass in the  Big Top to listen to the harmonious vocals and melodic acoustic guitars of Andy Flanagan and friends leading singing and worship of God.   

I wonder if someone who isn’t a Christian, or a believer in some kind of God, can understand the special moments that take place when beautiful, aesthetically pleasing music combines with an internal knowledge and realisation that you are singing not just into the air and expressing the deep-seated feelings and aspirations of one’s soul, but also communicating – intimately, gently, in a kind of perfect child-like innocence with a Divine Presence that is Love. I know from before I was a Christian that good music and art can bring people to such emotional heights as an artist expresses great truth or beauty in an aesthetic medium that does not bypass reason, but transcends it a brings a person into the realm of the sublime. But somehow…true worship…good worship is MORE than this. It is all of the above, yet it is also unadulterated, raw communication with the Holy teased out and enwrapped in the tenderest perfect love. One experiences not just the deep-seated longing and desires for a true and just and forgiving life and universe. One experiences, a simple, quiet, gentle voice whispering love songs back to you. Affirming in the deepest most emotionally tangible way and yet physically and visibly illusive a voice saying, “Yes, you are loved. All of you. Even with those parts of you that you feel you cannot show the rest of the world – you are loved…and yes, those hopes you had as a child to be a princess in a happy ending fairy tale or those dreams you longed to fulfil to be a knight in shinning armour defeating the enemies of justice and oppressors of the poor, and rescuing the beautiful damsel in distress….They were NOT fantasy. They were REAL. They were You and they were Me trying to teach you…help you to understand your role in all of this in language and images you – a child – could understand. I AFFIRM your desires for love, for justice, for peace, for acceptance, for forgiveness. I AFFIRM YOU, whatever the world or church or christians or priests or ministers or congregations think of you. I…GOD…affirm YOU. YOU ARE LOVED.”   

It’s difficult to explain, but that’s how worship can feel – like a beautiful, intimate, tender dialogue – simplified perhaps as God saying: “You are loved.”   

I had that experience participating in the worship on saturday morning as Andy Flanagan, a small group of musicians and a talented young actress brought together a superb musical and dramatised journey through the story of Mary of Bethany’s love of Jesus, loss of her brother Lazarus and gratitude to Jesus for bringing him back to life. A very touching experience.   

Vibrant colours and flags flowing in the wind of the Spirit represent the variety of humanity and the movement of God's Spirit at Greenbelt

Mark Yaconelli – Our Desires, the Prodigal Son and a God of Compassion

Listening to mature and wise writers and speakers like Richard Rohr, Simon Parke and Lawrence Freeman speak on matters from the importance of holistic worldview to the tortured lives of mystical geniuses such as Van Gogh, Leo Tolstoy and Meister Eckart or on how to practise contemplative prayer were among the highlights of this year’s festival for me. However, the great spiritual breakthroughs for me this weekend came hearing North American author and youth specialist Mark Yaconelli speak on the true nature of our ‘desires’ and on the nature of God in Jesus of Nazareth as a God of weakness and vulnerability, rather than conceived of as an abstract all-powerful, all-controlling and dictatorial Deity ‘up’ in heaven.   

  

 I have never heard Mark speak before, yet listening to him this weekend communicate so passionately and inspirationally the Love of God for human beings – all people – represented for me, two of the highlights of my religious journey and human life. Some of the ideas I had encountered before, yet others were original and new to me. However, what struck me in particular was the bringing together of the ideas with moving real life, true stories. One idea that I had never met before was the notion that the Father in the Prodigal Son story approves generously of the prodigal son’s ‘desire’ to escape the Father’s House and find himself/express himself in the world. I had always thought that the Father (and therefore by implication God) only reluctantly and regretfully releases his younger child into the big, open world. Mark turned this action of releasing around, into a Father who longs to see his child venture out, experiment and express their desires for creativity and self-fulfilment in the wider world. For me this was a new and poignant revelation, made all the more moving by the personal testimonies Mark told which made us laugh out loud and quietly cry at the irony of the passions of adolescent and young people’s desires managing to find expression in spite of the stifling repression in traditional and conservative religion. Thanks Mark, for all your patient work with young people and for not losing hope in a God who is vulnerable and weak, a God who rejoices, not resents when people discover their true desires in their hearts and have the courage to live them out. Thanks also for believing in the God who can redeem and heal all of us. Both those people, like the Prodigal, who are themselves wounded and living in an injured world fall into the trap of abusing their desires and hurting others in the process AND those who out of a desire to do the right thing bury their feelings and passions and end up trapped in dutiful lives, feeling unappreciated and unloved by parental figures and God and feel resentful toward their wasteful and self-indulgent peers.   

Mark Yaconelli’s talks can be bought and downloaded from the Greenbelt website.  

  

More flags at Greenbelt, Bank Holiday Weekend August 2010

 

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Cold Desert – raw, lonely, pure, beautiful

May 6, 2010

Cold Desert lyrics
Songwriters: Followill, Caleb; Followill, Jared; Followill, Matthew; Followill, Nathan;

I’m on the corner waiting for a light to come on
That’s when I know that you’re alone
It’s cold in the desert, water never sees the ground
Special unspoken without sound

Told me you love me, that I’d never die alone
Hand over your heart, let’s go home
Everyone noticed, everyone has seen the signs
I’ve always been known to cross lines

I never ever cried when I was feeling down
I’ve always been scared of the sound
Jesus don’t love me, no one ever carried my load
I’m too young to feel this old

Here’s to you, here’s to me
On to us, nobody knows
Nobody sees, nobody but me

Just listening to the Kings of Leon album Only By the Night on the CD player in the car. I love this album, which I would rate as one of my all time favourites. The whole album has a dark, moody and raw emotional feel to it. It’s the kind of new postmodern rock  that just permeates your skin and bones and seems to speak directly to your heart, only after it has reached the black inner chamber of your secret emotions does it resurface to enter your mind and stimulate ones thoughts and imagination. There are loads of good songs on the album, including Sex on fire, Use Somebody, Crawl, Revelry, Be Somebody and the final track on the album is the one I have quoted and tagged above Cold Desert.

 

I don’t know what the artists mean – the song writers and musicians – at least not specifically regarding the details of the events and lives that inspired the creation of this beautiful and haunting piece of music. For me it’s just one of those songs that catches me unawares when it comes on the CD player in the car. It works like a ‘magic’ key that opens the door to my soul for a few moments. Like a charm, the song opens up the dark recesses of my heart and says to my hidden emotions – “You may be unwelcome in the light and that’s why you have been shut away in the darkness, but right now…you are part of something larger, more humane. You are a amongst a kind of community, where the pain, anguish, confusion, disillusionment, abandonment and grief are all welcome to come out the cellar and feel the warmth of shared human love and lament, as expressed through music.”

Yeah, thanks, that’s how I feel sometimes. Bless you.

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Spiritual Temperaments (7of9): Enthusiasts (dancing, singing, rejoicing)

April 27, 2010

‘Excitement and mystery in worship is the spiritual lifeblood of enthusiasts…(They) are inspired by joyful celebration…Let them clap their hands, shout “Amen!” and dance in their excitement…’ 

Gary Thomas, Sacred Pathways (page 28) 

Photo by Andy Ross, used with permission from istock photo

Much of Gary Thomas’s book is about opening peoples’ minds to discovering God in different aspects of life other than the traditional evangelical habits of daily Bible study, Sunday church attendance and perhaps small group mid-week meetings. His insights are revolutionary if you come from that kind of religious tradition and you suddenly realise that God can be found and indeed God finds us in the great variety and wonders of the world we live in. 

Thomas’ seventh spiritual temperament is the Enthusiast. People with this kind of personality tend to throw themselves whole-heartedly into their devotion – body, soul, heart, mind, spirit. Their response to the sublime is powerfully expressed in physical movement and emotional outpourings. Perhaps, a good example from the Bible of this kind of temperament is the ancient Hebrew King David. In the book of the Hebrew scriptures 2 Samuel 6, a story is told where the potent young King David with his mighty warriors defeats the Philistine army and re-captures the Ark of the Covenant. At that time the Ark represented for the Hebrew people the centre piece of their cultic worship. It was on the Ark that the very Presence of God resided. That is to say, God was considered present in the Ark similar to the way light is present around an ignited light-bulb. 

The story relates the return of the Ark to Jerusalem, the Hebrew capital under King David, and various incidents both bad and good during this somewhat uneasy process. For our interest though, is the behaviour of King David as recorded in 2 Samuel 6: 14 as the Ark was brought back into the capital. The Bible author writes: 

‘David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.’ 

‘David…danced before the Lord with all his might…’ 

Perhaps, in our twenty-first century modern world view it is difficult for us to imagine the spectacular visual scene and noise this religious event must have evoked – dancing, shouting, trumpets sounding. Perhaps, few of us have experienced such vibrant life in Church, although some churches do encourage exuberant worship times. Perhaps, the closest comparisons for us would be major sporting events, music festivals or carnivals. It’s worth us remembering though that for some religious devotees the whole, multi-coloured spectrum of human qualities can and should be used in the celebration and praise of the Divine. 

It’s a bit of a golden-oldey now (1995!), but it still rocks, especially compared to most of what goes on in Church or  even disco. Here’s Matt Redman re-interpretating King David’s words in 2 Samuel 6: 16-22, after David’s wife scorns the King for getting carried away stripping down to his linen ephod and dancing before God in front of the crowds.

 

16 As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.

 17 They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings [f] before the LORD. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

 20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

 21 David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

2 Samuel 6:16-22 (NIV)

Copyright Amer Kapetanović (Used with permission Zooad, istock photo)

I found the above image of some of the so-called, whirling dervishes – Sufi Muslims who follow the teachings of the poet mystic Rumi. I have seen the dervishes dancing like this on TV they rotate at amazing speeds. I include it, simply as another example of how passionate physical and emotional expressions of love and devotion to God are considered normal in many different religious traditions across the globe, even if they are not the kinds of behaviour we normally expect of religious devotees.

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New musical life bursting through the dry ground!!

March 30, 2010
Edgy, gifted musician and songwriter Roo Walker + talented vocalist Emma Holmes

 

I find it so exciting when I meet up with other young(er) people seeking to create original acts of beauty with a deep spiritual core and presence to their art work. Its even more so when it is done with such subtlety and tender nuances that you could unashamedly introduce them to your sensitive, thoughtful non-religious friends.

I heard Roo Walker for the first time performing at Valley Pentecostal Church, Stocksbridge on Sunday night, March 28th 2010. He performed a mixture of classic pop covers (including a rousing version of Valerie, as covered by Amy Winehouse, with a spontaneous improvised booming base loop) together with some of his own music solo and also in tandem with talented new vocalist Emma Holmes. One track in particular Roo played live that really touched me on the evening. I thought it was another cover version of a track by a band perhaps the Verve or Keane? In fact it was one of Roo’s own compositions – The Sound of Selling Out.

The Sound of Selling Out is a indie-rock song from Roo’s EP Positive Music. The song has heartfelt lyrics that seem to stem from real human and artistic insight into the distress and hope of contemporary living. The guitar has a ring of the 90s independent rock and rollers The La’s – There She Goes together with the ghostly electric sounds and passionate, pain-filled vocals of Keane or Coldplay. There is an eery, haunting beauty to the song that penetrates the inner most chambers of the heart and releases the soul to celebrate…just give thanks for both the glory and the pain of acheing, vibrant young life.

Question – Did it make me want to raise my hands, close my eyes, strike up the lighter and dance? You bettya!!

Question – Will it be a song that I want to take on long drives when I wonder on the beauty of new life as the countryside and city drift by in impressionistic visions? No kidding!

Question – Is it a song you will play again and again and again on repeat? Yep, no doubt about it!

This is champion songwriting and musical performance by a young talent. The song is worth the price of the EP alone, but there is also a moving acoustic guitar peace by Roo (>) which means ‘Greater than’.

Look forward to seeing more of Roo live in the future – solo, in duet with Emma and with other Resound Media established artists.

Respect also to generous, gifted and unassuming young pastor David McEwan for putting on the music and social event and giving a platform and audience for these upcoming artistic talents.

Find Roo at www.resoundmedia.co.uk

Link: http://resoundmedia.co.uk/shop/mp3/roo-walker-postive-music-mp3s.html

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Whispers of heaven, radiant earth (Part 2)

March 27, 2010

Heaven by UNKLE

 

Where’s the Seraphim

Where’s the money that we made

Where’s the open gate

Where’s the fortune that we saved

Heaven’s here for you and me

With every falling curl

Heaven’s here for you and me

we gained ourselves the world

 

Hit the Motorway

I can take it all at speed

I got everything

I got everything you need

Heaven’s here for me and you

 scattered out with pearls

Heaven’s here for me and you

we gained ourselves the world

 

Where’s the warrior of light

with gates of solid gold

Paranoia through the fight

with dreams that never fold

Heaven’s here for me n you

scattered out with pearls

Heaven’s here for me and you

we gained ourselves the world. (x2)

 

I thought I would post the lyrics for this song Heaven by the band UNKLE. I don’t know the story behind these words or the meaning intended them by the author(s). However, like much poetry they speak at an unconscious level. Somehow the combination of specific words in a carefully chosen order and linked with phrases which we may be (un)/familiar with in certain other contexts, reaches beneath the iron gates of our pragmatic reason and teases out a thread of deeper life from the poetic core of our soul.

Rationally speaking, I honestly don’t know the meaning of these words. All I can say with absolute conviction is that from experience they stir within me something sensitive and fresh. The words gently encourage a part of me, which is normally  hidden inside and usually dares not raise its bruised and battered face out from its dark jail into the light. These words uncover something, that in normal circumstances, I would be embarrassed to confess. They tenderly coach out from within, dreams of a better world, either in this world or the next. Yes, a world called Heaven.

Heaven – a world of comforting power, bathed in soft light, dressed with sparkling treasure that could be angels and golden gates. It could also be closer to home sometimes. Heaven in radiant earth. The myriads of crystal clear, prisms of raindrops on a showery day? The release of tension in the saline solution of a single tear? The body’s healing convulsions in sobbing when the heart cries free? Perhaps heaven is revealed momentarily in the sunset. Fractured light that bathes the world in an amber glow of sunbeams through the windows of a car travelling down the road? The feeling of waking up in bed to the warmth of a body whose faithful presence has straddled both good and bad times over the years? 

I don’t want to hijack the song-writers intentions or words for a sectarian cause. The lyrics of the song, and the music and video that accompany it, belong to the artistic vision of their creators. I don’t know what their intentions or meanings for their art are. I just know that they touch and free me. They inspire me to think again about life on this earth and the meaning of heaven. I love the final refrain of this song. The singer enunciates  a vision of immanent beauty and transcendent mystery:

 

“Heaven’s here for me n you

scattered out with pearls

Heaven’s here for me and you

we gained ourselves the world.”