Fathers That Know the Father

This is another commissioned work, this time in connection with the Art and Craft of Writing Kickstarter, where for $50, the supporter would obtain access to every instructional video we produce (which we are making steady progress on), plus receive a poem by me to honour a special occasion and/or person in your life. This request was actually made outside the kickstarter channel by contacting L. Jagi Lamplighter directly, so I assume that this option is in theory still available today. The poem includes numerous inside jokes, personal memories and details of family history provided by the client, a wife and mother wishing to honour her aging father (and from what she told me about him, he is more than worthy of such a gift), hence some of the curious asides and word choices. I hope that general readers will still find it enjoyable and uplifting.

Fathers That Know the Father

Fathers that know the Father are such a special breed,
Though success in their endeavours is far from guaranteed;
They are not granted super strength, immunity from harm,
Super speed, astounding wealth or overpowering charm;

What they do receive instead is far more precious still,
A spirit touched with grace and a calling to instil
A love of God and truth and life in his children’s souls,
That they may lift their heads to aim for high and worthy goals.

Even in his absence, his influence is strong,
His loved ones know they always have a home where they belong,
Where they are known and cared for, and greeted with a smile,
Hoping that that their current stay can stretch a little while.

Far from our shores, you harnessed mighty atoms in the deep,
Ensuring that ten million children could stay safe asleep.
The sacrifices that you made leave echoes in their wake,
Clearing noble paths for other, younger feet to take.

Discipline unasked for and even fought outright
Is now appreciated in a wholly different light.
Prayers and verses planted in a mind when it is young
Grow into fruitful wisdom that flows in its own tongue.

Standing at attention while my tidying was checked
Has led to strong self-discipline and stronger self-respect.
You drilled me to work hard, in all things seek to learn and grow,
Aim for excellence, but never bask in my own glow.

A leader and great teacher in every port you called
You had so many ways to keep your students all enthralled
As you passed on knowledge that was more than just a hunch,
Such as the laws of thermo forbidding a free lunch.

I wish I’d been less stubborn and took the time to hear
The wonders of the universe that you so loved to share;
When you said your expectations of me were too high it hurt
When you took it back and were proud of me I thought my heart would burst.

A sweeping gift you gave me on the 8th year since my birth,
And we took turns adventuring all over Middle Earth.
So many books we’d share with joy, I even got some signed;
You always were so loving, so insightful and so kind.

A fluffball called Salami nuzzled past your stubborn gates,
Moved you in a way your heart could not anticipate;
And so when perched upon your leg in good old Morro Bay
He became the furry lord of all that he surveyed.

Our stomachs stuffed with tacos, we’d waddle up the hill,
Half-regretting extra bites when we had had our fill,
Back home to talk, to laugh, to revel in our family life;
Moments I still treasure now as a mother and a wife.

Black Mountain’s view enchanted us each time we scaled its slope,
Guests were met with signal flags along the yard arm rope,
Grandparents teaching step-ball back at 512 South Clay,
A family determined to all walk the narrow way.

Your love of God infectious, your love of us so clear,
Each time you wrote us letters it would fill our hearts with cheer.
No one on this earth could ever hope to fill your shoes
No one we would rather join us on a fun-filled cruise.

Because of you, our families walk and prosper in the light,
Gleaming like Alaskan gems of purest tanzanite.
Whether it is of the Apes or of the Caribbean,
All of us are certain you are worthy of this paean.

You showed us what a father is, what we should aim to be,
Reflected glints of glory that shine eternally,
Helped us in our crises, gave us strength to cope,
And led us to the One who is our everlasting hope.

You taught us to be humble, to never put on airs,
And of course, most importantly, to not forget our prayers.
For this and more we’re grateful, in more ways than you know;
So in this and other ways, we’d like to let it show.

Superversive Press Christmas Sale 2019

I’m a little late to the announcement, but Superversive Press has reduced the price of the following ebooks until the end of the year:

Jake and the Dynamo 
Jake Blatowski can’t wait for high school: basketball, calculus, and a cafeteria that isn’t under investigation by the health department. Well, he’s going to have to wait: a computer malfunction has assigned him to the fifth grade.
It’s bad enough that he bangs his knees on the desks or that Miss Percy is going over long division … again … but Jake’s sitting next to Dana Volt. She’s a perpetually surly troublemaker who doesn’t even have to exert herself to make his life a living hell. But no, it gets better: Dana secretly belongs to a coalition of girls protecting humanity from the horde of deadly monsters that plagues the city. But Jake’s no hero; he just wants to get to varsity tryouts!
When the monsters choose a new target, Jake’s not at all surprised that the target is him. Sure, why not? That’s the kind of week he’s having. Now the impulsive and moody Dana is the only one who can save Jake from certain death—but Jake is the only one who can save Dana from herself.

Hard Moon 
When Brandt Wills comes back to life in the caves of Luna, his problems have just begun. Once a renegade enforcer, now a lone survivor of forbidden research, he holds a secret in his blood with deadly consequences. Pursued by the mysterious Singularity, he must fight for survival, with only the mutant symbiote in his blood and an ai system on his side.
“Hard Moon” is the first in a new science fiction thriller series where alien research could mean destruction or salvation for the solar system.

 

 

To Rule In Hell 
The battle may be over, but the war is just beginning…
Even as the people of the Shanty and the Ziggurat come together to build a new Home, vultures gather, and sinister plots are born.
Amidst the backdrop of an uncertain future, Maya, Jon, and the other guardians set out in search of the Morning Star and the promised salvation hidden within.
When their journey goes awry, Jon and company find themselves at the gates of strange city, where the apparent peace isn’t what it seems. Human men, women, and children are ruled by civilized savages—a King and Queen who are hiding a dark secret an and evil presence from Earth’s ancient past.
The goddess and her guardians must fight for the freedom of the innocent, all while trying not to become that which they despise.
For there are those who reject the notion of serving in Heaven, preferring instead, to rule in Hell.

The Goddess Gambit 
He was born and bred to fight for the purity of the planet…
Upon graduation, Super soldier Jon 310-257 is ready to fight for his home. The city-state-fortress is a shining beacon of hope for all the survivors of the human race, keeping them safe from the swirling forces of chaos outside its walls. And Jon is ready to defend the Ziggurat at all cost.
But a shadow crawls across the land, obscuring a dark secret, a secret that Jon never expected. And when a sworn enemy makes contact with Jon, everything he knows if turned upside down.
Now it’s up to Jon to discover what it truly means to be a hero. But does he have the strength and courage to become what he was destined to be?

 

From Barsoom to Malacandra 
Science Fiction Grandmaster John C Wright here presents never before published essays on topics both deep and trivial surrounding the strange and wonderful worlds of science fiction and fantasy. Thoughtful, humorous, deep, or absurd, Wright travels the width of the cosmos and plumbs the deeps of eternity through the lens of simple space adventure stories to say what these flights of fancy say about life on earth, and the secrets hidden in the human heart.

 

 

 

 

The Last Straw
Once, in a theater long ago and far, far away, young audiences thrilled to the nostalgic space epic of yesteryear, known then only as STAR WARS, and were duly enthralled. So much goodwill, so much affection, so much love has rarely been lavished on any franchise. So much money from so many eager fans was never so readily available. And yet, with one potent Deathstar-like blast of mind-breakingly awful film making, the Disney Corporation has managed to alienate that goodwill, spurn that affection, and lose that money.
Why? What makes THE LAST JEDI so appallingly bad?
What made the film maker think he could win over his audience by insulting his audience?
Science Fiction Grandmaster John C Wright laments, analyzes, and autopsies the horrific story-telling of a film that, for so many of us, was the last hope for STAR WARS, the last dime we will ever spend on this once-beloved franchise, and the last straw that broke our patience.

Sheik of Mars 
Can a man save his true love from the tyrant of Mars?
Haroun Rashid has found his true love, Zira Al-Zuwar, but she has been taken from him on their wedding night by the powers who rule Mars. Gathering allies from the most unlikely places, he storms the palace of the Sheik of Mars, searching for Zira. No one can stand against him, but the price he will pay in suffering and death may be too much even for his resolve. The greatest beauties hide the worst snakes as A Princess of Mars blends with the Arabian Nights to create a tale like no other.

 

 

 

Operation Vampire 
Mick Murphy’s an Irish half-elf from Manhattan. His best buddy Dave is a dwarf from Brooklyn. Together with a company of misfits, screwballs and, well, trolls from the pit, they’ll take on anything Austro-Hungaro-Romania, or for that matter Hell itself, cares to throw at them.
But behind the vampires, werewolves and sky demons are the Big Boys, deep down in a pit of their own. The War won’t end until G.I.s plant their boots on the Devil’s throne and kick him out. Working their way up to this biggest of D-Days is going to tax the United States Army to its utmost … but the dogfaces on the Line are one step ahead of the brass, because they’re already halfway to Hell.

 

All Thing Huge and Hideous 
IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK A TEACHER.
IF YOU CAN READ THIS AND YOU HAVEN’T BEEN FED TO THE DRAGON, THANK A VET.

That’s me, Dr. James DeGrande. Fire-lizards deflamed, dire-rats spayed, flea and tick removal a speciality. I’m your local veterinarian, but I’m also a slave of the Dark Lord. I’ve hired a new assistant Harriet, who is almost a witch. I just hope that she can do better than my last assistant who … almost survived.
There’s no more heroes anymore. That’s because they were all fed to the Dark Lord’s pet Dragon after the last War.
It’s not the easiest position from which to make the world a better place, but I might be able to do something about the dragon. If His Darkness’s vampiric Prime Minister doesn’t do something about me first. It’s time to go see my patients, and hope they don’t see me first.
“A rollicking adventure that hits all the right notes.” –Christopher Ruocchio, Award-Winning Author of The Sun Eater Series

 

Immaculate Corpse
Now she must confront the man who tortured her. This little ole appalachian girl feels lost in our strange futuristic world, but she must face her fears. For the devil’s work is never done, and neither is the wellman family business.
There are worse things let loose in the world than mortal man can imagine, but purity can take them and isnt’ going to give up and die … Again.

 

 

 

Pure Poison
Purity Wellman’s family thinks she died in 1958. She should have been so lucky No, the devil stole her soul on her very doorstep. He was trying to get her parents. He got her instead.
She spent eight years in Don Bello’s fishbowl and fifty years in Purgatory before her brother sang her back into the daylight. As close as Knoxville lies to her Appalachian hometown, Purity has travelled far from anything she’s ever known, and she’s not going back to that fishbowl.
But, it turns out Purity isn’t as helpless as she used to be. For one thing, now she can sing. And for another, when it comes to vampires, she’s poison.

 

The Product
The Product will change your life. It will give you joy and confidence, make you more aware of the world around you. You will find new friends. You might even fall in love.
Few people know its name. Fewer still dare say it. It is, after all, illegal. Users are jailed. Dealers meet an ugly death. Yet the temptation is irresistible.
Kevin is a dealer. And he is about to get caught.

Dragon Award winner and author of CTRL-ALT-Revolt Nick Cole says “Fontaine expertly paints a loveless future where what’s human and what’s real is dangerous and highly illegal. Taut, passionate and compelling, this vignette of a dark future reminds us that we are still human, no matter what laws are passed. A fearless warning for these fear-filled times.”
Tangent Magazine said “This is a well-paced, descriptive offering … I find it to be something of a blessing, insofar as it accomplishes its goals and doesn’t overly linger in an attempt to do too much. I recommend it to anyone, and I specifically recommend it to anyone who is looking for fiction from the Superversive movement”
Castalia House said “There is a hardness to the setting and the ideas here that is reminiscent of Ayn Rand”

Warrior of the Kizan
To save a princess, he must first save himself
Star Wars meets Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars in this techno-magic tale of war and redemption!
Dakhar Talin, a member of a cursed, telepathic people, is the new head of security for the Royal House of Emun. When the princess, Tasia, is kidnapped, Dakhar’s investigation leads him to a sinister planet called Earth.
But inner demons from his military service torment him, threatening his sanity, integrity, and the success of his mission. Can he bring the princess home before he loses his soul to ever-corrupting madness?
Read Warrior of the Kizan, the new space opera adventure by former Star Wars author Ann Margaret Lewis!

 

The Broken Man
A Shadow Man is stalking the children of Ard, leaving the dead lying in the forest with their eyes black pits.  The people are in a panic, but the investigating Ruad philosophers have no explanation. Seeking someone to blame, the people of the ancient city of Ard demand the head of the most dangerous person in their midst, the giant Waylaid.  Once great among the Fomor—a prince, a sorcerer, a priest, Waylaid has been cast out by his people. He has come to Ard with his Bolg apprentice, Piju, to live quietly and study in Brea’s library. Can he escape the maddened crowd and  find the killer without breaking his vow to give up sorcery?
And has he failed to teach his young and impetuous apprentice the most important lesson of them all, that the price of using sorcery is always too high?

The Bone God
Three kingdoms…in search of a king.
Prince Bran of the Fomor intends to be that king. Through the power of his sorcery, he intends to ride to victory on a dragon, at the head of a Bolg army. He has wakened a god to destroy the city of Ard, and kill anyone who might stand against him.
Ard is near defenseless. The Daen, weakened by civil war, haven’t the army to stop him. The Ruad are ensnared by their own conspiracy to overthrow the Daen and rule Pywer.
Mistress Brea lives the quiet life in her library as judge in Ard, but she carries the iron sword of Daen kings, Answerer. Brea teams up with Piju, a journeyman whose magic nearly killed him in the past, and Waylaid, a giant with problems of his own, to defeat the Bone God.
In this sequel to The Broken Man, Pywer must face the power, and the failures, of prophecy.

Tears of Elfand

Peter Briton’s father, John, has gone missing and Peter knows what took him.One by one, Peter’s siblings are disappearing into the fairy haunted woods. Something sinister is calling them to the court of the Elven King. Peter feels the call himself.The children have struggled ever since their mother died in childbirth, and Peter has held the family together… until now. As his brothers and sisters vanish one by one, he knows that, soon, he too shall submit to the call and follow. He must find his father, save his family and bring them all safely home. If he cannot, they will be playthings of the Elves forever. Grab it now!

 

Lou’s Bar and Grill: Seven Deadly Tales
This bar has no regulars. But it’s not a regular bar.
Customers drift into Lou’s Bar & Grill with the usual broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams, but Lou knows what they want and how to serve it up for them…for a price. There’s beer on tap for the average customer, but Lou recognizes the special customers, the ones who need just a little bit more.
Sheila sidles up to the table and asks what they want. A burger? Sure. But maybe Brad also craves that hot woman who’s always turned him down. Maybe Laney’s still humiliated by her cheating ex, and she’d gladly rip out his heart.
Moe can grill up that burger, and Lou’s got beer on tap, but once they sign their names at the bottom of the order pad, they might just get the house special. It’s a bargain–a Faustian bargain–and seven customers are about to get everything their hearts desire.
Lou’s Bar & Grill isn’t for the faint of heart. Everything they want is within their grasp, but always remember that when the Devil writes the contract, he’s also in all the details.

Somewhither
Ilya, as he has secretly dreamed, is called upon to save the mad scientist’s beautiful daughter. With his squirrel gun, his grandfather’s sword, and his father’s crucifix, Ilya races to save the girl, and, incidentally, the world.
So it is, Ilya Muromets is a big, ugly, motherless boy who does not look like anyone else in his Oregon town. His father is often absent on mysterious Church missionary work that involves silver bullets, sacred lances, and black helicopters. One night, Professor Dreadful sends a warning to Ilya that his Many Worlds theory correct, but that his experiments have opened a door that should have remained closed, and his beautiful daughter, Penny, is in trouble.
The 2016 Dragon Award-winner for Best Science Fiction Novel, Somewhither is the first part of A Tale of the Unwithering Realm, a new science-fantasy series from science-fiction master John C. Wright. It is an adventure, it is a romance, and it is a coming-of-age story of a young man who is not a man, in a world that is only one among many. It is a tale of a greater and darker evil with longer reach than anything he could imagine, of pain beyond measure, and of the faith required to surmount all three. It is a story of inexorable destiny written in the stars and the stubborn courage that is required to defy it.

Discussing Bohemian Advent on Zaklog the Great’s book club

I made my third appearance on Zaklog the Great’s book club to discuss the Bohemian Advent series. If you were wondering about its different levels of meaning and biblical/historical references, then you’re in for a treat (for my Czech readers, my apologies for my stumbling over the Czech recitation, it’s usually someone else that reads the Czech translation at my church):

Priceless Day/Den nad každý jiný

Today is the day when holy light came into the world to redeem mankind. Here is Priceless Day performed by Zaklog the Great:

On Sunday I appeared on an episode of Zaklog the Great’s Book club to discuss this entire series, the recording of which will go live tomorrow.

Below is the English version, followed by the Czech.

Priceless Day

Beyond all hopes, beyond all dreams,
Beyond all human plots and schemes
To cure the ills that plague mankind,
The bonds that hold the weak unbind,

The wisdom of the world surpass,
To show the lost the way at last.
To shame the mighty and the strong
And show the proud where they went wrong.

To open up the narrow door
That leads to love for evermore;
All this through a baby’s birth
To reclaim corrupted Earth.

The fullness of divinity
Combined with full humanity
To be the Way, the price to pay
With unforeseen humility.

No eye had seen, no ear had heard
The mighty and incarnate Word
That cried our tears, that felt our pain,
So we could all be whole again.

The greatest enemy of all
Saw this would lead to his great fall;
He tried to tempt, to spoil, destroy,
But could not taint our source of joy.

At last That Day had come.

Den nad každý jiný

Nad pouhé splnění snů a nadějí,
Všelikých lidských plánů a idejí,
k nemocí všech lidí vyléčení,
okovů rozbití, odemčení,

aby se moudří poučili,
našli se ti, kteří zabloudili,
silných a mocných k zahabení,
omylů pyšných k vyjevení,

otevřít dveře úzké a těsné,
co k lásce bezpečně dovedou věčné
– to vše se naplní v dítěti malém
a jeho království nebývalém.

Dvojí se spojilo v jediném slově:
naplno Bůh a naplno člověk.
Ukázat cestu a zaplatit cenu,
s pokorou neznámou přichází k tobě.

Nelze se nedivit opět a znova
do lidství vtělení mocného Slova.
Cítil tvé bolesti, plakal mé slzy,
aby nás obnovil cele a brzy.

Nepřítel, ten, co má temnoty vládu,
poznal, že směřuje k velkému pádu.
Svádět se pokoušel, ničil a šálil,
radosti zdroj však nezakalil.

Tak konečně vzešel ten den.

Dominus Dixit

This is the other song I was commissioned to write, and is much more ambitious in its scope, in that it requires at least six parts, so would take a very brave musical group to attempt it. The initial tale was of a last Christmas mass being held in a crumbling church before its scheduled demolition and conducted by an aging traditionalist priest being pushed into retirement by a young ‘progressive’ bishop. Instead of simply retelling it in song, I expanded it into a dramatic Valjean/Javert-style confrontation between the two complete with a narrator, congregation and angelic chorus, plus some basic stage direction. 

Dominus Dixit

Narrator:

The town abounds with Christmas cheer
As we near that time of year;
But at the church upon the hill,
There’s little season

 

al goodwill.

With wrinkles on his hands
An old priest humbly stands
Before a younger bishop
Who has ambitious plans:

Bishop:

“I don’t care about tradition,
This is now the modern age;
We’ll knock down this crumbling mission
And then turn a whole new page,

“We’ll build a towering school of philosophy
To break tradition’s chains and set men free;
No more chants of stale encrusted liturgy,
We will march on forward to modernity.”

Priest:

“No, we will not change a thing,
We’ll be here and we will simply sing
Gloria Patri, et Filio,
et Spiritui Sancto.”

Bishop:

“You’ve got one more week, then I can have you replaced
To give this place a welcome change of pace;
People who’ll follow the trends of fashionable thought
And make all the changes that they ought.”

Priest:

“No, we must not change a word
Of what two thousand years has stood;
Foundations must not be destroyed
Or else, we fall into the void.”

Bishop:

“I’ll give you one more chance to prove me wrong,
To keep up with the times and show you belong
To this age of progress, wonders to behold
With your midnight mass, don’t leave me cold.”

Narrator:

The priest retreats to his small room,
Falls to his knees and in the gloom
All week he cries out fervently
With tears and pain and urgency:

Priest:

“Am I blind to the signs of the times,
Or is this the world that I must fight?
“What can I do? What can I say?
How can I find the narrow way?

“Your saints worked through the centuries
Should we be more than mere trustees
Of what they all have handed down;
Dare we resculpt their holy crown?

“My faith is weak, my body frail,
But in You I cannot fail;
I will stand on what I know
You have approved for us to sow.

“Give me strength and wisdom, too
To know what You would have me do.
Let not my slowing mind obscure
Your loving heart, so true and pure.”

Narrator:

The day arrives, all is prepared,
Though some things could not be repaired;
The wooden crèche is incomplete,
Its heralds missing from their seats.

The bishop notices and scoffs,

Bishop:

“Tradition clings to what is lost.
The angels have abandoned you,
A sign so clear it could get through

“Your hard old head to see your fault:
Look at this decaying vault,
‘Tis only fit to be torn down
And something better for this town

Built in its place to serve their needs,
Not merely chant outdated creeds.”

Priest:

“You’ve made it clear, you’ve had your say
Now let me have my final day.”

Narrator:

A handful of old congregants
Sit in nervous cognizance
Of what hangs over this old hall;
The priest stands from his old oak stall.

The bishop sits with a scornful look
As the priest reads from his gilded book:

Priest:

Dóminus dixit ad me:
Fílius meus es tu;
ego hódie génui te.

Narrator:

Some try to read and sing along
With tired notes that come out wrong.
They falter, stop in shame and groan
Until he is again alone.

Priest:

Quare fremuérunt gentes,
et pópuli meditáti
sunt inánia?

Narrator:

Disheartened he begins to slow
And his surrender starts to show,
Then as he sings the next few words,
Two voices from above are heard:

Angels:

Gloria Patri, et Filio,
et Spiritui Sancto.

{Melody} {Angelic harmony}
Narrator: Angels:
The congregation looks around
To find the source of this sweet sound
Inspired by this heavenly noise
All those present add their voice.
Sicut erat in principio
et nunc et semper
et in saecula
saeculorum. Amen.

{All voices: Melody plus angelic harmonies, an additional (ordinary) harmony joins in on ‘Quare’, ‘Gloria’ and ‘Sicut, to represent the congregation gaining more confidence and strength in their singing.}

Dóminus dixit ad me:
Fílius meus es tu;
ego hódie génui te.
Quare fremuérunt gentes,
et pópuli meditáti
sunt inánia?
Gloria Patri, et Filio,
et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio
et nunc et semper
et in saecula
saeculorum. Amen.

{Above repeats with additional bass voice(s)}

Narrator:

When the chorus is complete and each eye sheds joyful tears
And hearts are moved by beauty like they haven’t been in years,
Many search in vain for whence those voices came
That lit their souls on fire with a bright eternal flame.

The balconies were empty, the vestries were unmanned,
There’s nothing in the doorways that could make a sound so grand.
The bishop, shaken to his core, desperate to find out more,
Rushes up some spiral stairs to find beside some broken chairs

Up in the loft are standing two carved wooden figurines;
The angels from the crèche had not abandoned them it seems.
Contrition overwhelms him and he falls onto his knees,
Confessing sins and attitudes and making humble pleas,

Then carries the two angels down to put them in their place
To herald the Lord’s coming with self-sacrificial grace.
The old priest welcomes him back and together they will stand
To proclaim the Christmas message to this precious, blessed land.

Gold Sunday/Zlatá neděle

Today is the final Sunday of Advent, here is Zaklog the Great performing Gold Sunday:

I will be meeting up with Zaklog later today to discuss the Bohemian Advent series. I’ll be sure to let you all know when that is broadcast. Below is the English poem followed by the Czech.

Gold Sunday

From mighty Babylon of old,
Through furnaces and statues gold,
Endured a voice that prophesied
Great future empires’ fall and rise

And then a rock to dwarf them all,
Arising from a land so small,
Its people cling to trembling hope
In more than just a horoscope.

The age is nigh, the world expects
A noble, mighty architect
Of change unique in history,
An end to Israel’s misery,

And soon That Day will come.


Zlatá neděle

Babylon vladařem poražených,
zlatých soch i pecí rozpálených –
přesto hlas prorocký zaznívá z výše:
Povstanou, padnou veliké říše.

A potom kámen na říše padne
ze země malé, nenápadné,
jejíž lid naděje v duši má stopu
lepší, než najdete v horoskopu.

Nazrála doba, svět vyhlíží cele
slavného, mocného hybatele
dějinné změny, jíž podobné není,
on sejme z Jákoba porobení.

A brzy již vzejde ten den.

When the Light Came Down

A few years ago, I was approached to convert two different stories of Christmas miracles into singable lyrics to be put to music as part of a Christmas album. I composed and sent off the lyrics, but heard no more about efforts to produce the music and record them since then. I’ll share those lyrics with you now, and perhaps one Christmas in the near future their uplifting harmonies will bring joy and hope to an audience.

It is so long ago that I can’t remember the melody I had in mind for this first one, which concerns a secret meeting of Christians in the darkest depths of Soviet Russia. I will share the other one next week, if I can work out a way to format text into two columns in a blog post.

When the Light Came Down

In a land of cruel repression
And an atmosphere of dread,
The threat of disappearance
Hangs over every head.

The Cheka took the clergy
Who failed to hide themselves;
The gulag’s thirst is never quenched
For bloodshed in its cells.

In a barn out in the country
The faithful dare to meet
To celebrate the Nativity,
That great day in history

When the Light came down
To redeem the earth;
The Word made flesh
Through a pauper’s birth.

The pastor sees a boy he knew
And baptized long ago,
Now grown into a strong young man
Trudging through the snow.

The pastor’s smile is tempered
By a dark but nagging thought;
“Where has he been all of these years,
What battles has he fought?

“Is he lost, in need of saving,
Or an agent of the state,
Here to observe, inform on us
And seal our awful fates?”

But the Light came down,
Leaving heavenly bliss,
To be sacrificed
For such a wretch as this.

His mind made up, the pastor calls
For quiet, then he reads
The words of the old liturgy
That address their deepest needs:

For peace on earth, goodwill to men
And glory upon high
To God who is owed all our praise,
And all things beautifies.

When the pleas move on to ask
For blessings on the nation,
A look upon the young man’s face
Betrays his consternation.

For the Light came down
And showed the world its sin;
Men preferred the dark
To being changed within.

All there commend their lives to Christ
With confident conviction
Alone the young man holds his tongue,
Won’t mouth the benediction.

Sins are confessed, repented of,
Forgiveness is proclaimed.
God’s Mercy is extolled and
Calls to holiness are made.

The Eucharist draws nearer,
God’s purity declared;
His Holy Spirit invited into
All those thus prepared.

Then a Light shone down,
Into that dusty place;
An instinctive fear
Flooded every face.

Could that light be the Cheka,
Arriving to arrest
The faithful for their brazenness,
And thought crimes unconfessed?

No, it’s something more profound,
This old barn is now holy ground,
Each heart is filled with joy and peace,
Each guilty conscience finds release.

The young man stumbles forward,
Pleading for his soul,
The great light struck him blind and he
Now longs to be whole.

For the Light came down
To heal our ills;
Not for fortune, fame,
Or a thousand hills.

“I was here at the state’s behest
To report on faith expressed
In anything but the Soviet
And failure to quail at their threats.

“Forgive me, for I have betrayed
All for which you worked and prayed;
I believed their vicious lies
About you and all they despise.”

The old men gather round and pray
For the scales to fall away
From the eyes of his heart and head
To revive what once was dead.

For the Light came down,
Offering new birth,
To flee the snares of sin
And live a life of worth.