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.

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.

A Hope That Burns (Finally Recorded)

A Hope That Burns

As I indicated back when I first posted this, I hoped to participate in a local training weekend for musicians and sound engineers in collaboration with Visible Music College in Memphis, Tennessee, that included the professional recording and mixing of songs that we the participants wrote (one each), as well as basic instructions on techniques, tricks and resources for mixing and producing music professionally.

That recording went well (though it very nearly didn’t happen at all*) and in due time I received a mixed and raw multitrack version of the song, so I could practise the mixing techniques I’d been taught. I then had some vocal instruction from the amazing Moira Greyland Peat, who’s strength, grace and generosity of spirit despite a truly harrowing childhood is an inspiration to many, and resung an improved version of the vocals at home, then mixed it together to produce this final version that I hope will be enjoyable and uplifting.

For the rest of this month it will be available via the CD Baby store for the princely sum of 99 cents, (all other outlets are the same price, but the CD Baby store link above gives the best royalty per sale). Clicking on the image below shows all the outlets where you can stream or download the song.

A Hope That Burns

Melody and Lyrics by Ben Zwycky, accompaniment by Tomas Pavlicek

Vocals Ben Zwycky, keyboard Tomas Pavlicek, guitar Michal Petras

(*I completely lost my voice a week and a half before the weekend, only heard its musical accompaniment for the first time about an hour before we were supposed to demonstrate our songs to show that they were worth recording, while my voice was still shaky, and a scheduling conflict meant that we ended up doing our full recording half an hour after the window for recordings was supposed to close.)

A Hope That Burns

This is a song that I hope to record one day, perhaps there will be an opportunity to do at a meeting of musicians in February of next year.

A Hope That Burns

There is a hope that burns
Right through the strongest walls,
Freeing your heart and soul
To truly fly, beyond the sky;

There is a truth so deep
It helps you see the light
That floods the world right through
In every place and every time,

You just need to reflect it,
And redirect it
To make the shadows flee
And help the blind to see

That you are loved, that you are treasured
By Him above, who gives without measure;
There’s nothing that He can’t do, He has good plans for you.

There is a love so pure
It shames the proud to bow,
It fills the poor with joy,
That they’re so much more than a toy.

He’s calling you home, there’s no need to roam;
He’s prepared a place for you under a sky so blue,
Lit by His glory, that’s the point of the story
He’s been telling through every life,
There you can truly thrive,

So come on home, there’s no need to roam;
He’s prepared a place for you under a sky so blue,
Lit by His glory, that’s the point of the story
He’s been telling through every life,
There you can truly thrive,
So come on home.


Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay

Students of the Roanoke Academy

The long-awaited main book trailer for the fourth book in L.Jagi Lamplighter’s excellent Books of Unexpected Enlightenment series is now unveiled. Please enjoy and share around as much as possible.

When otherworldly forces conspire against those she loves, Rachel Griffin must face her most desperate hour.

This on top of winter fairies, lost friends, undeniably attractive older boys, and, oh, a rampaging ogre.

Out now on Amazon

Music by Sean McCleery

Lead vocals by Sarah Koolbeck

Lyrics, accompanying vocals, audio editing, animation, and video editing by Ben Zwycky

Cover artwork by Dan Lawliss

Character drawings by John C. Wright

Other images public domain from pixabay.com

Selected special effects from footagecrate.com

Flying clouds background from ignitemotion.com

A Tale of the Once and Future King

After a highly enjoyable discussion of the Classic The Once and Future King by T.H. White at DragonCon yesterday, I was able to makes some new friends and give the premier showing of the promotional video for the Upcoming Superversive Press anthology Tales of the Once and Future King. It was very well received, and I can now share it with you all via the magic of youtube:

There is also a more orchestral version of the song, in which Sean McCleery again showcases his considerable musical talent:

Both versions of the song are now available for purchase from cdbaby.com, and in time will also become available from a wide range of music sites. As this is my first foray into the world of professional music, it is an exciting and also daunting prospect. Click on the image below to visit my artist page, where both versions can be downloaded.

The Lyrics of the song are below:

A Tale of the Once and Future King

I’ll tell you a tale so your hearts won’t quail
Of the Once and Future King.
Surrounded by heroes, how mighty the cheer rose
At the hope his presence would bring.
With the sword from the stone
For his sins he atoned;
Though he did go away,
He’ll be back here one day
To reclaim his rightful throne.

A shadowy hand stretched over the land
And the people were distressed.
Foul fiends of the night,
Filled with unholy might,
Gave the poor and helpless no rest.
By the power of the cross,
And at great human cost,
They were sent down to hell,
And the land was made well,
So at last they could mourn the lost.

Though we’re pressed on each side
And so many have died,
Now is not the time to despair.
We’re still strong enough
To repel and rebuff
The troops of the Queen of the Air.
We will not concede,
For in our hour of need,
It has long been foretold
That our great king of old
Will be back, and the people freed.

You may mock, you may sneer,
You may laugh out of fear,
At the hope I claim to bring:
Mere stories for children,
Or gullible pilgrims,
Of a good and righteous king?
Yet he stands in your midst
And will not be dismissed;
His heroes beside him,
His people uniting,
In his army we enlist!

We Celebrate Another Year

It is my wife’s never-you-mindth birthday today, here is this year’s poem/song:

We Celebrate Another Year

We celebrate another year
Of your treasured presence here
On this day, we’d like to say
How much you truly mean

To this energetic family
That’s blessed with musicality
And lots of fun; you are the one,
Our most beloved queen.

Can there be a greater life
Than to have a mum or wife
As awesome as our quorum has
Declared your soul to be?

It’s your birthday, and we’ll find a way
To let you know you’re loved like no-one else
So sit back, enjoy, your sweet girl and boys
As they do things that cause your heart to melt.

Reviewer Praise for Doctor to Dragons

Doctor to Dragons has its first review on amazon, and from a fellow veterinarian, no less (though sadly one of non-magical creatures):

“I loved the idea of a fantasy book from the perspective of a veterinarian. As a veterinarian, Mr. Huggins did an amazing job of expressing a veterinarian well. The stresses and joys. The quick thinking and the problem solving. I had never thought about what it would be like to do surgery on a dragon, but since reading this book, I have dreamed about it and it is amazing! I regularly think about what I need to do to protect myself and staff from potentially aggressive patients, but am now very happy that I don’t treat basilisks! Thank you for an amazing entertaining story!!”

There you have it, what better seal of authenticity could you ask for? Don’t delay and dive into the exciting world of dragon surgery, with occasional forays into the wonders of basilisk balms, chimera cures, troll treatments and orc ointments.

As you descend to the waiting room with your beloved but beleaguered beast, feel free to soothe its nerves by singing along with the Dark Lord’s favourite elevator music. You know you want to: