Intimate Conversation with Robin Mann
(About to start writing, interrupted by a mash-up on the radio of the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin Alive’ with AC/DC’s ’Back in Black’. Hardly an intimate conversation but maybe we could talk about it some time. It certainly got some mixed reactions from listeners.)
But I was thinking about something else, though it is about music & it is about words. Many songs share thoughts & emotions that are hard to share any other way. It isn’t surprising that more than one person has said that to sing is to pray doubly (Martin Luther among others).
Praying is often a time when our deepest feelings are shared, where we try to put into words the secrets that we don’t usually share, even with our dearest friend or our closest confidant.
I know that many of my own songs are prayers & I find it much easier to say / sing so many things that are difficult to share in any other way.
The music adds so much to the words, added emotion, added depth. Sometimes it’s easier to even start with somebody else’s melody in order to express a particular thought.
One that’s lasted pretty well for some is ‘O Father, my Father’, words set to an old tune I first heard as Peter, Paul & Mary’s ‘My horses aint hungry’. The simple, beautiful tune was also sung acapella by Judy Collins making the lovely song ‘Farewell to Tarwathie’.
O Father my Father is a confessional song, owning up to shortcomings before turning into a statement of faith and a yearning for heaven.
1 O Father, my Father, I call on your name. My heart it is heavy with sorrow and shame. For I've been a coward, my courage has flown, and love lies within me as cold as a stone.
Such a confession is an essential part of our community gathering. I like the simple confession we often use: we have sinned against you in many ways - in our thoughts and in our words, in what we have done, and in what we have failed to do. It’s non-specific and allows space for us to personally fill in the gaps.
2 No word can excuse me, no word that I say; no place that I run to can hide me away. For nothing is hidden, yes all is revealed. You see how I'm sick, Lord, I want to be healed.
It’s no accident that Jesus healing miracles are so often much more than physical healing.
3 O Father, my Father, I call on your name. Your promise is with me to carry my blame. You came as a servant, your road it was clear. No coward was Jesus, for love knows no fear.
We make excuses, walk by when we should stay … Jesus stays.
4 O how I do wish that my last day was here, that I might be with you where all is made clear; where sorrow is over, the world is set free, and that which we hope for we finally see.
I wrote these yearning words when I was quite young, but they ring truer as we get older, I think. Faith doesn’t necessarily get stronger, but life experiences mean that out mind focuses on different things.
[‘O Father my Father’ words © 1973 Robin Mann – All Together Now no.6]
Robin Mann April 13 2016
Add your own comment: