There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.

inversions

Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.

soundings

soundings
click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.

bridges

bridges
Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.

echoes

echoes
Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.

Accidentals

This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

random reads

Caedmon, Sing Me Something

Some time in the mid-seventh century, an Anglo-Saxon herdsman living in the monastery of Streonæshalch (on the north-east coast of England) had a dream. The monks of the monastery were at feast that night, singing and harping, but because he knew no poetry, Cædmon had wandered off early to sleep in the cattle stall with the animals he tended. In his dream, "someone" approached him, calling him by name and beckoning: "Cædmon, sing me something."

Knowing no songs, Cædmon refused, but the "someone" insisted: "All the same, you have to sing for me."

"And what must I sing?"

"Sing principium creaturarum"-- The beginning of Created Things.

Immediately Cædmon's mouth was opened and he began to sing praises to the Creator. Verses he had never heard before sprang out of him, verses for the Christian God, but sung in the (till then mostly pagan) poetic tradition of his country-men.

Translated into modern English, this is what he sang:

Now must we praise heaven-kingdom's Keeper,
the Measurer's might and his mind-plans,
the work of the Glory-Father, when he of wonders every one
eternal Lord, the Beginning established.
He first created, for men's sons,
heaven as a roof, holy Creator,
then the middle-earth, mankind's Keeper,
eternal Lord, afterwards he made--
for men, earth, the Master Almighty.

Cædmon woke with this song ringing in his head, and shared it with his foreman. The foreman took him to the abbess of the monastery, who in turn affirmed it as a gift from God. Cædmon took monastic vows and began to receive instruction in Christian doctrine, learning the "whole sequence of sacred history" which he would convert into sweetest song, song "so delightful that he made his teachers, in their turn, his listeners."

He died a revered poet-saint.

And the song he received that night in the cattle-stall of a seventh-Century Christian monastery on the north-east coast of England is thought by many to be the earliest example of Anglo-Saxon poetry we have on record. You can click here to listen to a reading of Cædmon's Hymn in the original Old English. (If you've never heard Anglo-Saxon poetry before, it's worth a listen. I got my English students to listen to a bit once when we were studying poetry-- they said it sounded like Elvish from the Lord of the Rings movies.)

But there's something haunting here in this ancient story of a simple herdsman, meeting with the Christian God and finding his mouth filled with distinctly Anglo-Saxon praise. "Cædmon, sing me something" called the Spirit of Christ in the stable that night; like an altar-hot coal he touched Cædmon's lips, inspiring him to translate that touch into the rich poetic tradition of his own culture.


And there, in the alliterated syllables and Old English kennings of Cædmon's hymn- now must we praise heaven-kingdom's Keeper- the Measurer's might and his mind-plans- we can hear the Spirit calling out once more to all the nations, tribes and tongues of the Earth. "Come," it cries: "Bring to me the richest and finest and most lovely your culture has to offer- its verse, its song, its art, its craft. Bring it now through the gates of the New Jerusalem. Lay it here at the feet of the Christ of God and find it divinely-claimed, blood-bought, purified and perfected there."

"Come Cædmon, sing me something."

0 comments: