Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It Came To Pass

Notes after the lyrics:



It Came To Pass

In a little town in the country
Far away from the crimes of man
Was born one day a baby
Soon to be talk of the land.

His promise outshone his poverty
By the distance of nations each mile
Though the prophets may forecast the future
no one forgets this child.

He walks through life so serenely
Though misunderstood and unknown
Though his friends say the all will stand with him
At the end he is standing alone.

And it came to pass
They began to ask
Who is this only son?
What is his name?
Where is he from?
What has he ever done?

He said we're a nation of brothers
Look well on the things that you do
Take care you do only to others 
The things that you'd have done to you

He spoke out of love and of kindness
Of the meek who'll inherit the Earth
It angered the elders to find this
So they fought back for all they were worth

He was taken before courtrooms of many
From township to jail he was tossed
Then they found him so frighteningly guilty
They nailed both his hands to a cross.

And it came to pass
They began to ask
Who is this only son?
What is his name?
Where is he from?
What has he ever done?

[Update! There's a third section now. Keep reading]

And it came to pass
They began to ask
Who is this only son?
What is his name?
Where is he from?
What has he ever done?

What has he ever done?


Notes:

Writing a hymn is tricky business. It's tough to get it so it doesn't sound cheesy or trite, or warmed over from two thousand years of previous attempts. When I got the lyrics from William I wanted to make sure that this one was done sincerely, and also that it would be something that could be enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Musically, I hear this in my head as being very "Irish". In fact, I'm consciously trying to keep the "Irish" out of my voice when I'm singing it, and I'm not entirely successful. Other folks have told me that it doesn't sound like a particularly Irish tune to them, but I'm telling you... I personally cannot hear this in my head without a fiddle and a bohdran. When I sing it in private it's in a horribly pronounced and probably very bad brogue. Which is just as well... I bet God just loves Gaelic music. I do, too, and if I had my way, that's how it would be produced.

A few things didn't make it into the lyrics here... no healing of the blind and crippled, and I left out the police arrest and most of the politics. Those things that I did change are all universal (I think) though based in scripture. The fourth verse (first after the first chorus) is a straight rephrasing of Matthew 7:12. Of all the potential teachings I could have chosen for the next verse, I chose "blessed are the meek" for its potential  to trigger the ire of the establishment.

This isn't the first time I've taken a stab at this song... the original lyrics (which these are very close to) were written around 1980. About 15 years ago I did an extensive re-write which attempted to answer the question posed rather than leave it unresolved. Big mistake. It was heavy-handed and preachy and way.... too much.  It sounded militant and in-your-face, and 100% not what Jesus would do. I'm glad I didn't finish that one.

I think of this as the "short version" of the song... I think of the "long form" as being three sections, each ending with the "And it came to pass..." chorus. One for the birth, ministry, and resurrection of Jesus. But I don't have lyrics for the third movement, so the short form is all we have at the moment.  

In the stead of the third movement I simply repeat chorus and the line, "What has he ever done?"

Update: The third section is now written, and the lyrics are as follows, with a great many thanks to JoAnn Abbott of Menage A Tune for helping me finish it up. These should be inserted where indicated above:




In a tomb cut from rock he was buried
But for him even Death had no power
Resurrected, He greeted dear Mary
On the third day at morning's first hour

Do you love me? he asked those who followed
Go forth, let the world know I care
You've a place in the house of my Father
And a life everlasting to share

[break]

So won't you let Him be your portal?
Open up, and embrace a new start!
Believe and He'll make you immortal!
His Spirit will live in your heart.

And it came to pass
They began to ask
Who is this only son?
What is his name?
Where is he from?
What has he ever done?




Notes for the 3rd section:

I found that I couldn't let go of the idea here that, not only should this section be about the Resurrection, but the three verses should be about the Resurrection, the Great Commission, and an Invitation, so that's what you see here. As with the rest of the song, there are a great many details not said, but this is a song, not a biography.

There are a number of scriptural references here. Notably, "Do you love me?" is found at the tail-end of John, where Jesus asks it of Simon Peter three times (and you'll note the prevalence of threes in this song: three sections (birth, ministry, resurrection) of three verses each. The song itself is in 3/4 time... 3 beats per measure)

The first line of the Invitation is my way of expressing the idea of Jesus as a portal... based on His statement that no man gets to the Father except "through" Him. I carried that expression forward as a metaphor. However, Jesus is never actually named in the song, to keep the questions chorus relevant. This is an invitation to read and think about it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very very nice. So record a final version now! - JoAnn

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