Peter's Blog

Recapturing the power of song

Written by Peter Johnston on .

John Bell and Jo Love

Last Friday night I joined many others at Queen's Cross Church for "A Big Sing" led by John Bell, Jo Love (pictured above is John on piano and Jo introducing a song) and Graham Maule of Wild Goose Worship Group from the Iona Community. It was a great night (and the start for them of a weekend of workshops) as we travelled around the world singing songs with their tunes or words rooted in countries near and far. It was good to see friends old and new from Aberdeen and Balmedie, Inverurie and Kintore there.

We were reminded, time and again, that song is a powerful action: it communicates both intellectually and emotionally, it motivates and energises us, it immediately provides a sense of single purpose, yet allows for diversity in harmony within that purpose. We learnt some songs that were new to me, and some of them we will no doubt use at Ferryhill in the future. Some of the language was superb in its depth and yet down-to-earth vocalisation of our human experiences with each other and with God.

In that same vein, a friend John Owain Jones wrote a new hymn this week for Transfiguration (which is this Sunday's celebration in the church) - the moment when the disciples go up a hill with Jesus and witness a kind of revelation of who Jesus was, they see him transfigured. This will be our theme for Sunday, so below the jump I leave you with Owain's super down-to-earth, yet mountain-top retelling.

Up that weary hill they stumbled 
Stunned by words that made no sense, 
With their easy dreams had crumbled
Galilean innocence 
“You’re the Christ!” glib Peter’d trumpeted! 
“Yes – but listen!” Jesus said 
“Christ’s road leads down to Jerusalem, 
And this Christ will soon be dead.”

Up that hill just eight days later, 
Followed Peter, James and John 
Stumbling through their new reality
Dreams destroyed, faith clinging on.
With them, Jesus; through this strangeness 
He was still what he had been;
Who that was, since Caesarea,
They must start afresh to glean.

Up the hill, and then, exhausted, 
Down to rest: and there they wait; 
Jesus moves away a distance, 
Prays; they nod – it’s getting late. 
Now from sleep they’re fully wakened 
Now they see! Unearthly, bright  – 
Hope, anticipating Easter: 
Life destroys death’s  fearful night!

Down the same strange hill they stumble, 
All is different, all the same 
Still before them lies Jerusalem, 
Their denial, flight and shame. 
Their new grasp of him will loosen, 
His of them they will not shake;  
They have glimpsed the truth that’s in him, 
Know his way is theirs to take.

Up our own steep hill to worship, 
Wearying gradient of the mind, 
Lord, we come, from life’s reality;
If escape we seek to find, 
That is not what Jesus offers: 
Truth, not wish-dreams;  self denied; 
Cross borne daily; his, our journey;
Life transfigured, death destroyed.

Words: © John Owain Jones, 2014
Tune: Austrian Hymn