Land of the Free

A little something for my American Readers:

Land of the Free

When brave men fought to free their homes,
Spat in a tyrant’s eye,
And built a land where all can rest
Under the clear blue sky:

Free to live and build and grow
As their Creator made them;
With honour, grace and fortitude,
Grateful He had saved them.

Defending a true liberty
With rights and duties twinned;
No communal punishments
For your ancestor’s sins,

No right to rule through noble blood,
No foul subhuman castes,
Their later fight to free all slaves
Would complete this task.

One set of laws for everyone,
Whoever they may be;
Each person’s work and character
Brings wealth or poverty.

A nation built on virtue
Without it cannot stand;
Now celebrate and fight to keep
The glories of this land.

Fathers That Know the Father

By reader’s request, I am reposting this piece for Father’s Day.


This is another commissioned work, this time in connection with the Art and Craft of Writing Kickstarter. 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.

My First Online Concert (inc. Without Love, There is No Life)

Two weeks ago, I took part in the fourth Visible Music Weekend at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Prague, in which the topic was live performances and livestreaming music performances, which culminated with a livestreamed music concert featuring songs by all of the participants in the weekend, together with some prerecorded videos, a short sermon and adverts for the two schools involved to give the live participants time to reorganize the stage between performers. The vast majority of the video is in Czech, so might not be of interest to the majority of my readers. (Some technical issues resulted in just under the first 40 seconds of the youtube video being blank). One of the prerecorded videos is a slightly tweaked version of my “Silent Night” video from several years back (21 minutes 23 seconds in), I feature in the backing choir in one song (39 minutes 37 seconds in), and my live section (starting at 56 minutes 26 seconds) is comprised of a bilingual reading of my Bohemian Advent poetry series, followed by the debut performance of a song I first wrote over a decade ago, but whose musical accompaniment was only finalised an hour before the livestream started, then finishing off with A Hope That Burns.

Through a combination of extreme nerves and no chance to rerecord things, I made a number of errors during my live performance, Over the coming weeks I will attempt to record a better quality version of Without Love, There is No Life for you all to enjoy. Here are the lyrics:

Without Love There Is No Life

(spoken)
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.
(music begins on life, the rest is sung)

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.

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.

Two Decades Since My Quest Began

It has been twenty years since I first contacted the girl who became my wife. Here is the song I wrote and sung for her today to commemorate the occasion.

When I see the ways we’ve changed,
The things that we’ve gone through,
The treasure that you are to me,
The joy I bring to you;

I still fail and let you down,
I’m not all that I should be;
Sometimes I find it hard to grasp
That you can still love me.

The Father watches over us,
The Son still leads us on,
The Spirit gives us strength to love
And know that we belong.

Two decades since my quest began
To reach out and connect
To a funny, kind and loving
Female intellect.

But you are so much more than that,
My friend, love, confidant;
He has blessed our lives with so much
More than we could want.

The Father watches over us,
The Son still leads us on,
The Spirit gives us strength to love
And know that we belong.

Where Life Did Not Belong

 

Empty coils of cloth were found
Where life did not belong,
An unsealed tomb and shifted stone
When birds began their song.

Holy power and glory broke
The grip of death and sin,
Opened up the heavenly gates
So all could stride right in

And see the Father face to face,
Be welcomed by the Son,
Be humbled by His sacrifice
And all His death had won.

The shadow’s washed away by light
That never will grow dim,
For all who leave their lives behind
To serve and follow Him.

When the Shadows Ruled the Day

When the shadows ruled the day,
Their triumph plain to see,
Good men sat shaken with dismay
At crushing Calvary.

Despair was now their daily bread
And bitter tears their drink
The one they followed is now dead,
What were they supposed to think,

That this was part of a great plan?
No lord would choose that death!
Forgive his killers to a man
With ragged, fading breaths?

“No, we were fools to trust his words
And now all hope is lost;
We’ll go back to our shoals and herds
And start to count the cost

Of standing up to Rome’s great might
And the Sanhedrin’s scorn;
Hide from the harsh revealing light
Of the coming dawn…

If I Had Seen Him…

It was my sin that pinned him there,
My blows he chose to take;
The insults I deserved to bear
He suffered for my sake.

If I had seen him on the cross,
Would I have turned away?
Would I have joined that ugly mob
On that horrific day?

Would I have fled and hid in fear
That I was next in line?
Would I have seen the signs appear
When noonday ceased to shine?

Would I have stood and watched and wept
As his blood was shed,
My heart unable to accept
That my lord was dead?

Would I have understood the gift
That he was giving me,
The price he paid to heal the rift
And set my spirit free?

Do I now live in thankfulness
For all that he has done,
And joy that words cannot express
At all his death has won?

When the People Saw Their King

When the People Saw Their King

When the people saw their King
And shouted praises in the streets,
Laying cloaks as offerings
Before the donkey’s humble feet;

The nation’s healing was at hand,
Vain men dared not stem the flow
Of joy their pride could not withstand,
For fear the people might outgrow

Their iron grip upon the minds
Of the faithful, good and true,
And leave their twisted souls behind,
As God poured out blessings new,

And heaven would come down to earth;
All their hopes would be fulfilled.
All would see their own true worth,
Broken lives would be rebuilt.

As He revelled in the cheers
That greeted Him along the way,
Perhaps He shed an inner tear
At what awaited in five days.

The Day is Coming

Another song I might record one day:

The Day is Coming

My friend was mentioned on the news,
Misrepresenting all his views.
As they piled up lie on lie
I shook my head and gave a sigh.

Sometimes it seems like the devil is winning,
But I know in the end that he won’t be grinning

Oh, the day is comin’
So no, I won’t be runnin’.
I’ll stand, not hide or cower,
‘Cause my Lord, He has the power.

The innocent are torn to shreds
Some in the womb, some in their beds
And in the streets as their blood flows
Some celebrate this horror show

They love the darkness, despising the light
But that won’t be me, ‘cause I know what is right

Oh, the day is comin’
So no, I won’t be runnin’.
I’ll stand, not hide or cower,
‘Cause my Lord, He has the power.

In the kingdom that’s to come,
We’ll see the glory of the Son;
With justice that his foes all fear
And mercy for his bride so dear

United in joy that mere words can’t describe
‘Cause He cleared the Way thought His great sacrifice

Oh, that day is comin’
So no, I won’t be runnin’.
I’ll stand, not hide or cower,
‘Cause my Lord, He has the power.

When it Seems…

Another song I might record one day:

When it Seems…

When your nation’s soul is crumbling
As its purpose slowly dies;
A man of principle can’t find
A sight to soothe his eyes.

All around are trace reminders
Of the way things used to be
When honour, fortitude and trust
Were found abundantly.

Now the enemy is laughing
And his power seems secure,
Your allies are collapsing
And it seems you can’t endure:

There’s a hope that will never fail
There’s a power that’s above the sky,
You are part of a wondrous tale
Of love that simply will not die.

When the sickness overwhelms you
And your body’s wracked with pain;
The strength that always got you through
Has been completely drained,

There’s a truth that keeps you going
Through the fury of the storm;
There’s a kindness overflowing
That will all these woes transform

Into scars of pride and glory
In the kingdom that’s to come
As we witness the full story
Of the Father and the Son:

There’s a hope that will never fail
There’s a power that’s above the sky,
You are part of a wondrous tale
Of love that simply will not die.