Iron Sunday/Železná Neděle

As is now tradition, I am posting my advent series on the Sundays of Advent. Below is the English version, followed by the Czech translation

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Iron Sunday

Nations crushed by iron wheels,
With gladii and oblong shields,
As far as human eyes can see
Reigns Caesar unopposed, supreme.

He sees himself as a great god
To rule all with an iron rod.
“My empire has been built to last
My might will never be surpassed.”

But soon That Day will come.

Železná neděle

Železná kola národy drtí,
oválné štíty a čepele smrti.
Kam oko člověka dohlédne, vidí,
Císař je bezmezný vládce všech lidí.

Jist si je nade vše svou božskou rolí,
železnou vládne všem pěstí a holí.
“Pevně jsem zbudoval říši svou věčnou,
vládnu jí mocí nekonečnou.”

Však brzy již vzejde ten den.

Marriage Vow

This song is adapted from an upcoming collaborative project with Anthony Marchetta, and also commemorated my twenty-first wedding anniversary last week. (a new version of the video with improved audio has now been uploaded

Options for downloading or listening via major online stores and streaming services can be found here as soon as they become available:

https://song.link/MarriageVow

Lyrics, Melody, arrangement, vocals, mixing and video editing by Ben Zwycky.

Czech subtitles are also available, translated by Petr Mares.


Marriage Vow

When two souls are joined as one,
The wise are moved to tears,
For they foresee the blessings
That will flow down through the years.

The bonds of love we treasure
And honour all our lives
Repay us without measure;
Through love our souls revive.

This is my marriage vow
That I’m declaring now,
Before the people here,
As they applaud and cheer:

I promise faithfulness,
And utter openness,
To heal our brokenness
With playful tenderness;

I’ll always stay with you,
Faithfully pray with you,
Whatever trials may come,
We’ll work to overcome.

You are my joy,
You are my peace,
In the shelter of your heart I find release.

We’ll raise our children
To love the Lord,
To know His Word and stand up to the world.

When we get tired
As we grow old,
Your love will still mean more to me than gold.

When two souls are joined as one,
The wise are moved to tears,
For they foresee the blessings
That will flow down through the years.


Manželský slib

Když se dvě duše spojí v jednu,
moudrým vstoupí slzy do očí.
Vidí, že zde pramení požehnání,
Pro řadu nadcházejících let.

Když je nám pouto lásky vzácné
A ctíme ho celý svůj život,
Naše odměna je nezměrná.
Láska dá život naší duši.

Toto je manželský slib,
Jímž se zde dnes zavazuji,
Před všemi těmi lidmi,
Co nám tu tleskají a radují se.

Chci slíbit věrnost
A úplnou otevřenost,
Jež zahojí naše rány
Hravou něžností.

Zůstanu vždy při tobě,
Budu se s tebou věrně modlit,
Ať nás potká jakákoli zkouška,
Společně v ní obstojíme.

Jsi mou radostí,
Jsi mým pokojem,
Ve skrytu tvého srdce se cítím volný.

Společně vychováme děti
v lásce k našemu Pánu,
aby znaly jeho Slovo a dokázaly čelit světu.

A až budeme jednou unavení,
Až přijde stáří,
I pak pro mě bude tvoje láska cennější nad zlato.

Když se dvě duše spojí v jednu,
moudrým vstoupí slzy do očí.
Vidí, že zde pramení požehnání,
Pro řadu nadcházejících let.

When Mummy Hears This Little Song…

Today is my wife’s birthday. I wrote a song with a simple melody for it so that our two youngest could sing it together with me for her.

When Mummy hears this little song, she might begin to cry;
It tells her how we love her and lots of reasons why:

Cuddles before breakfast are the best start to a day;
And as far as we can see, it’ll always be that way.

So many things you cook for us with skill and lots of love,
Experimental recipes we’re so glad you thought of;

Creative crafts and projects that help us to create
Many clever, pretty things that we can imitate;

Fun businesses and startups that bless so many hearts:
Bouncy castles, candy floss, embroidered works of art;

Plays on words and running jokes that add that extra spice,
All in all, our precious Mum, life with you is so nice.

A kiss goodnight that sends us off to all the sweetest dreams;
Your love can work such magic that’s limitless, it seems;

You remember lots of things that we need every day,
So remember, we love you in lots of different ways.

A Certain Precious Magic

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the first time I contacted the girl who became my wife. Here is the song I wrote and sung for the occasion last night.

There’s a certain precious magic in communication
When distant souls discover they are close;
Two lonely hearts that have their homes in separated nations
Take a chance, and thus a friendship grows.

That friendship can plants seeds of love that sprout and grow and bloom,
And multiply the joys and stakes of life,
Until the two stand side by side as blushing bride and groom,
Forever to be joined as man and wife.

I’m so glad I started down this path that led me to your heart
And grew my soul immensely on the way,
So I’ll do my utmost to always play my part
In blessing you, my treasure, every day.

Victory

The Devil rested on his laurels
Knowing that he’d won;
He’d arranged for God’s own people
To kill his Only Son.

“His wrath is unavoidable,
He’ll cast them all away,
I’ll drag them down to join my fate,
Despairing all the way.

“The great plan of his creation
Has failed so utterly,
The thought of all those screaming souls
Fills my heart with glee.

“What other torments can I plan
For the fools who followed the Son of Man?
They fled the scene and failed the test
When my time came with his arrest.

“Now they cower, now they hide
In locked rooms fully terrified
Of my next great show of power
As morning breaks this very hour…”
 
Then the ground shook, the curtain tore,
The stone was rolled from the entrance door,
Angels stood and told the news;
His soul was utterly bemused.

“How can this be? He’s back to life!
And thrown the gates to heaven wide,
So any sinner can approach
The throne of God without reproach!

“He used the scandal and the shame,
Humiliation and the pain
To pay the price for what went wrong,
Instead of where the blame belongs.

“All my scheming, all my work
To drive the human world beserk
Has come to nought, my power’s broke,
How dare he twist my twisted joke

“Into something beautiful and true
That cure’s man’s ills and will renew
His bond with his creator God
So all will call him Saviour, Lord?”

And so the Devil did retreat
Ashamed by his complete defeat,
His mandate over Man revoked
For those who choose to bear Christ’s yoke.

Your Burden

My failures stand before you,
Adding to the weight
Of your burden on the cross
When you took my fate.

As they drove the nails in
You did not rage or curse,
Determined in your task to save
The entire universe.

As your lifeblood flowed away
You looked to other’s needs:
Your mother’s care, forgiveness
For those who did the deed,

And most of all to pay the price
In anguish of your soul,
Separated from His love,
So we could be made whole.

Let me not forget your grace
In all I try to do;
The thing that everyone on Earth
Needs most of all is You.

Welcome

May You be as welcome
In my heart as on that day
When crowds laid cloaks and branches
To glorify your way,

Proclaiming you as rightful king,
They sang and praised your name,
That you healed the blind, the sick,
The outcast and the lame.

Your rule in me is what I need
To combat my foul pride and greed,
To count the cost and sow good seed
With wisdom and with grace.

So as your influence grows,
Your wondrous mercy flows,
With joy my whole soul knows
That I have put You in your place.

Without Love, There is No Life Finally Released

After far too long to get it ready, I am pleased to announce the release of Without Love, There is No Life, available on most streaming and music platforms, complete with a music video on youtube.

All options for listening to and downloading the song can be found here

https://song.link/WithoutLove

The song has been tweaked and expanded on since the poem version, originally inspired by multiple scenes in Nobility Among Us, and even since the live performance a year and a half ago (which was less than an hour after the piano accompaniment was worked out with the extremely talented Daniela Zoubková).

She is back again providing the piano, Petr Mares is on the guitar, (whose talents you may know from Did you Know? and A Tale of the Once and Future King) and I provide the vocals. I edited the music video using freely available stock footage and imagery from Pixabay and Unsplash. English closed captions are available in the youtube video for the hard of hearing and non-native English speakers, and Czech subtitles are available.

Listen, watch, enjoy, and share with those you think will appreciate it.

Lyrics:

Love is full of purity.
It shows patience and humility.
Love is not a selfish lust;
Instead, love gives a grounds for trust.
Love gives a child security.
Love gives a thing its beauty;
Because, without love there is no life.

Love is a many-splendoured thing.
Love gives a broken man new wings.
It perseveres, no matter what the cost;
If you have love, you’re never truly lost;
Love, seeing all my flaws;
Love, guided by higher laws;
You know, without love there is no life.

Love simply wants to hear the truth.
Love, it is not eternal youth.
Love is more than soothing noises,
‘Cause love steps up and makes hard choices.
Love lasts through the ages,
It’s written on all life’s pages.
You see, without love there is no life.

It makes the ordinary great,
Won’t mind if you are late,
Won’t leave you to your fate,
This is love.

Love puts you in harm’s way.
Though you try, you can’t always save the day.
Love is there to share your pain,
To weep and help you on your feet again.
Love is a healing flow.
Love gives you room to grow.
You know, without love there is no life.

Love looks you in the face.
Love helps you find your place.
With love, you can forgive the past,
Move on and build a peace to really last.
Love is where you find your worth;
If you’re loved, you’re more precious than the Earth.
You see, without love there is no life.

Love is full of light. Love does what’s right.
Love is patient, love is kind.
Love is humble, but not blind.
Oh, love is beautiful!
Oh, love is wonderful!
You know, without love there is no life.

It shows you you belong,
It admits when it is wrong,
It’s majestic and it’s strong,
This is love.

But love is not every time returned;
Love is not something you have earned.
Sometimes our care isn’t even prized;
Instead our thoughts are utterly despised.
True love goes on caring anyway,
Even when we walk the other way;
It knows that without love there is no life.

Love is how your soul can truly shine.
Through love, I am yours and you are mine.
Love expressed is such an open book;
A life of love is worth a closer look.
Can it be, that here is love for me?
Come explore this greatest mystery,
And see that without love there is no life.

**EDIT** Czech subtitles are now available, translated by Petr Mares. It is not meant to be singable and is not always an exact translation, the emphasis was on the beauty and flow of the text while capturing as much of the original meaning as possible.

Kde není láska, tam chybí život.

Láska – ta je vždy čistá,
Plná trpělivosti a pokory,
Není sobeckou vášní,
Ale právě naopak: je základem vzájemné důvěry.
Dítě pocítí v lásce bezpečí
A každá věc jen v lásce nabyde své krásy.
Protože kde není láska, tam chybí život.

Láska je něco nadmíru zázračného.
Je to láska, co dá zlomenému nová křídla.
Láska vytrvá, ať to stojí cokoli.
A máš-li lásku, nikdy nejsi ztracený případ.
Lásce nejsou moje chyby skryté,
Řídí se nicméně vznešenější logikou.
Totiž tam, kde není láska, tam chybí život.

Láska chce znát pravdu takovou, jaká je.
Láska není slib věčného mládí.
Láska je víc než plané konejšení.
Umí se vydat i cestou těžkých rozhodnutí.
O tom, že láska přetrvá věky,
se dočteme na každé stránce života.
Ono totiž kde není láska, tam chybí život.

Věci běžné promění ve skvělé,
nerozladí ji zpoždění,
nenechá tě napospas osudu.
Taková je láska.

Láska tě neušetří těžkostí.
Rád by ses jim vyhnul, ale není to vždy možné.
Ale je tu láska, aby sdílela tvou bolest.
Aby s tebou plakala a pomohla ti znovu na nohy.
Láska je proud moci uzdravení.
A láska ti dává také prostor k růstu.
Totiž tam, kde není láska, tam chybí život.

Láska ti hledí do tváře,
A pomůže ti přijít na to, kam patříš.
V lásce dokážeš odpustit věci minulé,
dokážeš jít dál a budovat trvalý pokoj.
V lásce najdeš svou pravou hodnotu.
Když jsi milován, jsi vzácnější než celý svět.
Ono totiž kde není láska, tam chybí život.

Láska je plná světla; udělá to, co je správné.
Láska je trpělivá a vlídná,
je pokorná, ale nikoli slepá.
Jak nádherná a úžasná je láska!
Víš, kde není láska, tam chybí život.

Láska ti dá najevo přijetí.
A pokud se mýlí, dokáže to uznat.
Je vznešená a silná.
Taková je láska.

Láska nicméně není vždy opětovaná.
S láskou to není něco za něco.
Občas zůstane naše snaha bez ocenění,
někdy se setká dokonce s opovržením.
Pravá láska i tak vytrvá.
I tehdy, když je jí odpovědí lhostejnost.
Ví totiž, že bez lásky není skutečného života.

Teprve v lásce se tvoje duše skutečně rozzáří.
Skrze lásku jsem já tvým a ty jsi mou.
Láska vepsaná do stránek otevřené knihy,
Život v lásce stojí za bližší prozkoumání.
Mohu se opravdu i já setkat s pravou láskou?
Pojď, prozkoumej to největší tajemství.
A přesvědč se: není života bez lásky.

He Knew, and Yet…

He knew we would betray Him,
He knew we would rebel,
He knew we’d turn this good, green Earth into a living hell.

He knew our vicious natures,
Our lusts to mar and maim,
And how we’d mock and sneer at Him as He died in pain.

And yet He came down to this world
As a weak and helpless babe
To give new hope to all mankind, our souls to cleanse and save.

So when you look within your heart
And find so much that’s wrong,
Remember that he paid the price so you could become strong

In faithfulness and mercy, joy,
Peace and self-control,
Kindness, gentleness and love that heals your very soul.

This joyous day, the tides all turned,
The Devil’s schemes all crashed and burned,
And purity revealed its power to make our spirits whole.

When the Skies Were Silent

I was saddened over the weekend to hear of Lou Antonelli’s passing. He was a true gentleman, a kind and joyful soul and a gifted writer, and it deepens my sadness that I never got to meet him in person (he was supposed to stay at my cousin’s house with me for DragonCon 2017, but terrible traffic conditions prevented him from making the journey). While I didn’t write this song with him in mind, it seems somehow appropriate.

When the Skies Were Silent

When the skies were silent,
No song came from the clouds;
No whisper wafting on the wind
To calm the madding crowds,

No burning words of wisdom
That leave a man in awe;
No key to all my problems
That opens every door.

I sat there in the quiet,
Frustrated and alone;
Despair welled up inside me,
To which I’m all too prone.

But then I looked up at the trees
That speak of His great artistry;
The sun and rain, each in their time,
His generosity;

A mountain’s great endurance
Reflects His faithfulness;
Birds sing songs of glory
That words cannot express.

Animals at play give us
A glimpse of His pure joy;
The beauty of the stars above
Our sins cannot destroy.

A shoulder there to cry on,
A smile and warm embrace,
Expresses part of His great love,
His mercy and His grace.

So when the skies are silent
Above the dreadful noise,
I’m clear on my assignment:
It’s my turn to be His voice.