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Songs - tell me the story


Asked for a presentation by Robin & Dorothy  (re our music, our work, our life)
about our passion for music, song-writing and performances over the years.


1.       How shall I call you? Maker of heaven,
poet of sunset and painter of sky,
Father almighty, who's running to find us,
giving his son who will suffer and die:

Glory to the Father, the Son and the Spirit,
let's sing it again and again.
Glory to the Father, the Son and the Spirit,
forever and ever. Amen.

2.       How shall I call you? Master and servant,
lord of the seasons and lord of the years;
faithful and constant in loving and mercy,
giver of laughter and taker of tears:

Prayer: How shall I call you? Lover of children,
shepherd and teacher and brother and friend,
healer of blind man and healer of leper:
you are beginning and middle and end.
Glory to the Father, the Son and the Spirit,
forever and ever. Amen

D  We met in Sunday school, became an ‘item’ when we were 16 & started singing together.  Just over a year after we were married we were invited to be part of a worship music group at Scots Presbyterian Church.  Kindekrist  (initially 3 Presbyterians & 3 Lutherans) played in every denomination, especially in that first year. (Aquinas College, St Peter’s Cathedral, …& St Stephen’s Lutheran)

In July 1973 our daughter was born. I had a baby, Robin had a song.


      Father welcomes all his children, to his family through his son;
Father giving his salvation, life forever has been won.

1.   Little children, come to me, for my kingdom is of these;
life and love I have to give, mercy for your sin.

2.   In the water, in the word, in his promise be assured:
those who are baptised and believe shall be born again.


R  Songs start in lots of places. Most often for me there’s a Bible text that begins the process, but not always. Christ be with me is the ancient St Patrick’s prayer, In the house of God started from a book by Walter Trobisch called ‘I Married You’.  This one kicked off at a youth camp in the hills. We went for a walk on the Saturday afternoon with our kids, 5 and 3 at the time, and they used cow cakes as stepping stones – the cows hadn’t been there for a while, so it wasn’t too messy!


1.   When the day has begun, and the darkness is done,
and my eyes see the sky so blue,
I put on my clothes, I'm ready to go
walkin down the road with you.

      So I'm walkin down the road …  with you.

2.   You know how it goes when I'm walkin the road,
I'm a child, everything seems new.
I trip, hurt my knees, lose my way in the trees,
so I'm walkin down the road with you.

R  I was reading this terrific little book called The Holy Spirit: shy member of the Trinity when I bought a new synthesiser, an Ensoniq, in July 1987. Songs have many jumping-off points, and the combination of the book and synth ( and many other things too!) led to this song. It's got a lot of words. It's a long prayer to the Holy Spirit, and also an exposition at the same time.

I know that community worship songs with lots of words are not fashionable, but God just keeps putting all these words in my head! And anyway, Christians are urged in the letters of the New Testament to grow in knowledge as well as in faith and love. I think songs can help us grow. They get words into our heads and keep them there. If the words are a good reflection of Scripture, and focus on the beautiful things God does for us, songs can do much more than make us feel good.


1.   Spirit of God, you're with me, shaping me from within;
everything Jesus promised, you bring:
life in the Father's care, your special peace we share,
safety from every evil snare.

      Spirit of God, fly like a dove,
carry your gifts of faith and love.

4.   Give me a heart that's simple, just like a child at play.
Let me be strong but gentle today;
trusting when I can't see, that you're at work in me,
growing some good fruit on this tree.


D  Being Australian is pretty important to us. We like to talk & sing in common language. Jesus was born to an everyday family, talked in everyday language, using pictures from everyday life. The writers of the New Testament did the same thing, using the ordinary way of talking. This is pretty important when we’re trying to pass on the message that God isn’t a long way, but came to be a human being with us. And is right here, right now!


1.   Here we are, under this sky - oh, what a land to live in.
How did we come to be in such a place?
A sky that talks day after day, telling of endless glory,
the glory of God, the work of  his own hands.

But how do we say our thankyous?
Anything would be far too small.
How do we show we care? We could try to share

2.   Here we are, under your roof - safe and secure you make us.
You are the rock, the centre of our land.
Jesus here, speaking our names - oh, what a gift his word is -
making us part of his own family.
But how do we say our thankyous?
Anything would be far too small.
How do we show we've heard?  We could spread the word.

3.   Here we are, richer than kings, all that we need provided,
more than enough for this life and beyond.
Jesus' blood, shed on the cross, healing our broken bodies,
filling us up with his new kind of life.

But how do we say our thankyous?
Anything would be far too small.
How do we pass it on?  We could sing his song.

R  Most of my song-writing is based on, grows out of the Bible. Telling the story & meditating on the story. Whether it’s Isaiah 40 (Comfort), Luke 22-23 (When our life began), Matthew 17 (Listen to him, See Yourself), or John 13 (Love one another), even where the songs are less obviously connected you don’t have to look too hard to see the links. Father Welcomes, while the verses come out of Luther’s Catechism, the central image of the Father welcoming is Luke 15 – the Waiting Father, The Prodigal Son. Usually, while there’s a strong story-telling & teaching element, prayer is at the heart of the song: ‘when my life is over, be with me my friend’, ‘Feed us now, Bread of Life’, ‘Teach me your way’, ‘Everything we got, you give us’. Even ‘Daddy I love you’, which some find beyond the pale, is simple prayer & praise!

D  This is for Easter Sunday, from John 20. Like quite a few stories in the Bible, it shows the women in a better light than the men! While the disciples are hiding away, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and becomes the first witness to the resurrection. Earlier in John 11, Martha is the one who confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.


1.       "I have seen the Lord", Mary told them all.
Then she told them what the Lord had said.
She was overjoyed when he spoke her name.
Jesus Christ is living though he once was dead.

Everything has changed — death is overwhelmed!
Life will never, ever be the same.

She was overjoyed when he spoke her name.
Jesus Christ is living though he once was dead.

2.       We have seen the Lord — we have heard his voice —
recognised him when he broke the bread.
Opened up our eyes, set our hearts on fire.
Jesus Christ is living though he once was dead.

Everything has changed — death is overwhelmed!
Life will never, ever be the same.

Opened up our eyes, set our hearts on fire.
Jesus Christ is living though he once was dead.

D  When our daughter, our first child, Kristin, was born, the song that became my signature tune, ‘Father Welcomes’ appeared very quickly. When Kris asked me to write a song for her wedding to Shane, things didn’t happen so fast.

They’d selected the classic reading from 1 Corinthians 13 (‘Love is patient …) as the main text for the day. I’d already written a couple songs on that text and I doubted whether I’d come up with another one as good. But like a preacher, or songwriter, should do, I went back to the text. In ‘The New Jerusalem’ translation, it finishes: ‘As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love’. The spark, and the title, for the new song came from the next words from the start of chapter.14: ‘Make love your aim’.

 It was a ‘Eureka!’ moment. And while Kris has a strong Christian background, Shane doesn’t, and it was good to write a song for them that was just about giving love the highest rating.  (and I even managed to fit Shane’s Harley in the song!)


1.      You could have a house so grand, like the Taj Mahal
and servants to fulfil each passing fancy.
Though it may be fun to be number one,
there’s a brighter flame — make love your aim.

2.      You could be a movie star the crowds would flock to see,
drive a brand new Porsche or ride a Harley.
Maybe greatness lies in a different prize:
go for humble fame — make love your aim.

Love is patient and kind, never jealous or proud,
not conceited and not offensive, and it’s not boastful or loud.
Love will always remain, never come to an end;
always trusting and always hoping: on love, you can depend.

3.      You could write the greatest book, and be a living legend,
find a cure for HIV or cancer.
As you turn the page, walk a different stage,
keep it in the frame — make love your aim.

Love is patient … you can depend.

4.      … as you turn the page, walk a different stage,
keep it in the frame — make love your aim.
go for humble fame — make love your aim.
there’s no greater claim — make love your aim.

R  Dorothy & I had quite a bit of contact with Victor Harbor Lutheran congregation when Detlev Vosgerau was pastor there. We’d bought a house at Middleton. We were going to lead the music for a service where the local Lutheran school was involved. The theme Detlev came up with led to this song — another way of relating some of the Bible’s story, some of salvation history.


      God’s excellent adventure — best story in the world!
God’s excellent adventure — which chapter will we tell?

1.       Little David was a shepherd. He became a mighty king.
When his people were in trouble, killed Goliath with his sling.

2.       Little Isaac, angel promised
— Sarah laughed at what he said.
She was old and didn’t know that
Israel was up ahead.

3.       Little Jesus in the manger,
shepherds heard the angels sing.
More important than the Caesar:
he’s the greatest, he’s the king!

R  Our pastor, James Winderlich, took his theme one Sunday from the TV show, Thank God, you’re here. A good idea for a song, so a fair bit of the week was spent on just that


1      You’re the beginning of everything, maker of air & cloud & wing;
you’re the creator of stars that sing — thank God, you’re here!
We are originals, everyone. Never again will our race be run.
No-one will ever do what you’ve done — thank God, you’re here!

See all the stars in the night-time
— where have they gone in the day?
Wonder & miracle everywhere
— thanks for letting me stay!

2      Tyrannosaurus has gone away. Now the humans have their say.
We’ll be history one day! Thank God, you’re here!
Marvel at everything you can — oh, what a woman! What a man!
Blade of grass & grain of sand! Thank God, you’re here.

Fabulous fish in the ocean,
beautiful birds in the air;
under the ground, under water
— woh, another world there.

R  Getting inside the story, putting ourselves in the story, is one of the fundamental things we do as faith people. I put that meditation to music. I was pleased to write this simple Christmas blessing, locating us in the story that happened 2,000 years ago.


May we hear the angels sing as they did that night;
see the star up in the sky shine with heaven's light
– 'Glory be to God on high, peace to all the earth' –
gaze with Mary's loving eyes at the Saviour's birth.


D  We received a Christmas card from Warren and Lorraine Bartlett that contained an adapted Celtic (or Gaelic) Blessing. Warren was at that time Moderator of the Uniting Church in Victoria and this Australian flavoured version of the blessing had been written for the annual synod of their church in September. Julie Perrin, a storyteller, had written the words. Dorothy said ‘Why don’t you put music to it. I made just a small change to the wording — ‘for you’ was originally at the end of each of the first four lines. I was pleased that Julie liked the change.


For you, deep stillness of the silent inland
For you, deep blue of the desert skies
For you, flame red of the rocks and stones
For you, sweet water from hidden springs.

From the edges seek the heartlands
and when you're burnt by the journey
may the cool winds of the hovering Spirit
soothe and replenish you.

In the name of Christ, in the name of Christ



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