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poetry

July 03, 2010

Earlier this week I was chatting with Matthew Smith, he of Indelible Grace fame. Matthew has just finished recording a new record (a personal album, not an Indelible Grace album) and he allowed me to listen to it. There was one song in particular that gripped me. The words come from an old German hymn of unknown authorship which was later translated by Jane Borthwick. It was printed in Hymns from the Land of Luther under the title “The Long Good-night” (originally “Ich fahr dahin mit Freuden”).

Matthew has adapted this into a beautiful song titled “Goodnight.” It is a song about the sadness of death but also the hope of resurrection and reunion. Here are the words and the embedded audio so you can listen in and read along. If you really like it, you can go here to buy it for just $0.99.

<a href="http://matthewsmith.bandcamp.com/album/goodnight" _cke_saved_href="http://matthewsmith.bandcamp.com/album/goodnight">Goodnight by Matthew Smith</a>

I journey forth rejoicing
From this dark vale of tears,
To heavenly joy and freedom,
From earthly bonds and fears;
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

Why thus so sadly weeping,
Beloved ones of my heart?
The Lord is good and gracious,
Though now He bids us part.
Oft have we met in gladness.
And we shall meet again,
All sorrow left behind us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I go to see His glory,
Whom we have loved below:
I go, the blessed angels,
The holy saints to know.
Our lovely ones departed,
I go to find again,
And wait for you to join us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I hear the Saviour calling,
The joyful hour has come:
The angel guards are ready
To guide me to our home,
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

Here also is a brief video of Matthew talking about the song:

Matthew Smith talks about the song “Goodnight” from Matthew Smith on Vimeo.

April 04, 2010

Every Easter Saturday, that day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I find myself pondering what it must have been like for Jesus’ followers on that day. What did they do? What were they thinking? How did they spend their day? What thoughts were running through their heads? Their leader was dead; their Messiah had been arrested, beaten, crucified, killed, buried. Miracles had attended his suffering—darkness and earthquake—and yet still he was dead. Confusion must have reigned. Bewilderment.

It’s no wonder that Christians worship on Sunday. Muslims worship on Friday, Jews worship on Saturday, but Christians worship on Sunday because that is the day when Christ proved that he had conquered death. This is why we are Sunday Christians. We are not Friday Christians who serve a dead Savior, not Saturday Christians still waiting and wondering, but Sunday Christians who serve a living, breathing Savior—one who is alive and one who reigns. He died because he had to die. Our sin demanded blood and death. And yet he rose because he had to rise. He was the Son of God; how could death hold him? How could the Creator of all that exists be held down by death? It cannot happen and it did not happen. Christ is risen.

And for 2,000 years Christians have been celebrating Jesus’ conquest. I could turn to hundreds of books and songs and poems today. But allow me to turn to one of my all-time favorites, a poem that gives just a glimpse of the hope Christ offers through his resurrection. This is John Donne’s “Death, Be Not Proud.”

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

He is risen!

January 02, 2010

Today I encountered, “A Time To Talk,” a little poem by Robert Frost. I’d suggest that, unlike some poetry, it needs little explanation. A little reflection wouldn’t hurt, though.

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

November 28, 2009

A friend sent me this poem/hymn. I thought you’d enjoy it as I did.

*****

When sins and fears prevailing rise,
And fainting hope almost expires;
Jesus, to Thee I lift mine eyes,
To Thee I breathe my soul’s desires.

Art Thou not mine, my living Lord;
And can my hope, my comfort die,
Fixed on Thy everlasting word,
That word which built the earth and sky?

Since my immortal Saviour lives,
Then my immortal life is sure;
His word a firm foundation gives -
Here let me build, and rest secure.

Here let my faith unshaken dwell;
Immovable the promise stands;
Not all the powers of earth or hell
Can e’er dissolve the sacred bands.

Here, O my soul, thy trust repose;
Since Jesus is for ever mine,
Not death itself, that last of foes,
Shall break a union so divine.

Anne Steele, 1760
No. 623 in “Our Own Hymnbook”