Almost You’re Smiling

Even though Christmas was two days ago, I’m still enjoying wonderful thoughts about a wondrous event. If you’ve been following the series of songs from A SONG OF PLENTY, I hope you’ll forgive me if I interrupt that by sharing a Christmas song I wrote in 1992 but recently added the refrain to. You can watch a Youtube video of me singing “Almost You’re Smiling” here.  A free lead sheet is available here.

If you’re like me, you’ve often wished you had been around two thousand years ago to witness Jesus’s life and ministry in person. But wishing doesn’t change the fact we were born two millennia too late.

Rather than fret about it, let’s imagine we were among the shepherds who saw and listened to the angels’ spectacular announcement of Jesus’s birth–no Super Bowl commercials could come close to matching it!–and have come to the stable, where we’re looking at Jesus as a newborn.

Hmm. No matter how special the angels said He was, He looks pretty much like any other baby, doesn’t He? Or does He look a little bit more peaceful than a regular baby as he lies there sleeping?

He opens His eyes. He appears to look first at you and then at me. Strange. Newborns aren’t able to focus that way, are they? More amazing still, He appears to be deep in thought. But babies can’t think yet; thought requires a knowledge of language, something  babies aren’t born with.

Of course, we know He’s both human and divine. So isn’t it possible He can observe things a normal baby can’t observe? And think or feel things babies shouldn’t be able to think or feel?  Alas, the Bible doesn’t tell us.

I speak to baby Jesus, aware that He shouldn’t be able to understand me. Yet He appears to be listening to my words. Perhaps even comprehending them. As if He might truly be more than just an ordinary baby. After all, fully human and fully divine is a strange and powerful combination. Not to mention a unique one.

Yes, Jesus is unique. Even so, I’m certain He won’t be able to answer my questions or comment about my observations. But I’ll ask and comment anyway.

“Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.
Can it be You feel the coldness of the world You’ve come to?
Do You somehow miss the warmth You’ve left at home in Heaven?
Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the Son of God?

Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.
Can it be You feel the joy of those who wait Your coming?
Do You somehow know what hope You’ve brought to earth from Heaven?
Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the Son of God?”

I don’t know how Jesus differed from ordinary babies while–at the same time–still being quite ordinary. It doesn’t  matter. Even as a baby, He deserved and deserves my praise and adoration–during the whole year. Not just at Christmas.

Please share a comment.

I’ll be back again next Wednesday with the next song from the SONG OF PLENTY musical. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

Links you might be interested in:

 

Advertisements
Posted in Christmas, Christmas Song, Divinity, Humanity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lamb Out of Every Crisis (w/Monologue Three)

Monologue Three:
GIRL (continuing letter). . .

As she talked, I felt the excitement in me growing. Mom and Dad, a fleeting thought of you and home ran through my mind. But I quickly grew nervous. . .restless. Things weren’t right in me, and I knew it.

It must have shown. I don’t know how or why, but this new friend–oh! did she know me already–said, ‘Nothing but the love of Jesus can give you the peace you seek.’

Song:
God makes a lamb out of every crisis in your life
When you let Him become the keeper of your heart.
It is God who puts to pasture every care and worry.

God makes a lamb out of every crisis in your life
When you let Him become the keeper of your heart.

About this Song:
Although the lyrics for “A Lamb Out of Every Crisis” are barely longer than the song title, it’s one of my favorites. It gives me a calming effect similar to Jesus’ calming the storm at sea with “Peace! Be still.” Somehow, it also makes me imagine God as a lion tamer who converts a ferocious beast into a cat tame enough to make into a house pet.

At some point in the early 1970s, a close in-law left home unexpectedly, and no one knew where she had gone. Because she was at least eighteen, it wasn’t legally a matter of running away from home. Yet that’s what she’d done.

She ended up going from the Midwest to New York City and staying a few days before returning home. I don’t remember any of the specifics, and I wouldn’t want to embarrass her about something that happened more than forty years ago, but her search for. . .whatever was the inspiration for this song.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

                 

Links you might be interested in:

 

 

Posted in God's Peace, Song of Plenty | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silver and Gold (w/Monologue Two)

[From the musical drama, Song of Plenty.]

Monologue Two:
GIRL (continuing letter). . .

Mom and Dad, they WERE happy! I couldn’t keep from smiling a little just from being near them. Yet it made me feel all the more depressed knowing that I didn’t have what they had.

So I asked this one girl, ‘What is this? You’re all no different from me, and yet you are! What is it?’

‘Jesus,’ she answered simply.

‘Jesus!’ I said. ‘That’s what my parents tried to force on me for years. I didn’t want it. But what you have is different. What is it? Tell me!’

By now the eyes of the whole group were on me. I felt embarrassed, and yet I knew that they didn’t mean for me to.

Trembling, I continued, ‘This plenty you have. . .it can’t be Jesus. Not JUST Jesus. That can’t be enough!’

The girl I had talked with a few minutes before said quietly, ‘He is. He’s all we have to give you, and he’s everything there is.’

Song:
Silver and gold and folding green:
These are things I cannot give you;
They’re things I have little of.
Houses and lands and the latest things:
These are things I cannot give you,
But I can show you God’s love

Sunsets and snowflakes and springtime showers:
These are things I cannot give you,
Though they’re things I have plenty of.
Rainbows and moonlight
And days that follow nights:
Things are things I cannot give you,
For they’re all part of God’s love.

God’s love shows in so many ways!
Life for us is free;
It is God Who pays.

Life and health and strength
And a sense of peace:
These are things I cannot give you,
Though they’re things I have plenty of.
Satisfaction and a sense of worth
And the feeling of being free:
These are things I cannot give you,
For they’re all part of God’s love.

God’s love shows in so many ways!
Life for us is free;
It is God Who pays.

Silver and gold and folding green:
These are things I cannot give you;
They’re things I have little of.
Houses and lands and the latest things:
These are things I cannot give you,
But I can show you God’s love

God’s love shows in so many ways!
Life for us is free;
It is God Who pays.

About this Song:
This is the second song in my 1974 pop-musical, Song of Plenty.

This song is based largely on the New Testament story of Peter and John on their way into the temple. A beggar, a man who had been lame since birth, asked for a handout. Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give to you.” And with that, he healed the beggar and sent him on his way–walking and rejoicing.

The girl the seeker in the monologue was talking to couldn’t offer her money or things or even the beauties of nature. But she could offer God’s love.

And isn’t that true of each of us as Christians?

The third monologue and song will be coming next Wednesday. If you want to subscribe to this blog by email, you’ll find a place to do that at the bottom right..

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

           

Links you might be interested in:

 

 

Posted in Gold, Healing, Silver, Song of Plenty | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of Plenty (w/Monologue One)

MONOLOGUE ONE:
GIRL: (reading letter)
Dear Mom and Dad,

It seems an eternity since I left home. How often I’ve wanted to write or call, but I couldn’t. The things that have happened. . .Mom and Dad, I didn’t want to make you cry. I lost so much.

But something else has happened. Something special, something great! It’s strange. I had been feeling especially low: lost, empty, hungry for something I didn’t have and couldn’t find.

Then I went to this place–I guess you’d call it a mission–where there were a lot of other kids. They looked so much like me. You could tell they’d been through a lot. But there was something different about them: a spirit! As they talked and moved and laughed and sang, they seemed, well, alive and happy.

SONG:
Sing a song of plenty to God,
Whose every gift to us is good.
Sing of perfect plenty to God,
Whose gift to us is His presence of love.

Plenty of God’s presence means plenty of His love,
And plenty of God’s love means plenty to sing about.

Sing a song of plenty to God,
Whose every gift is rich and free.
Sing of God’s every blessing to you with
Lives that are full of His presence and peace.

Plenty of God’s love means plenty of His peace,
And plenty of God’s peace means plenty to sing about.

Sing a song of plenty to God,
Whose every gift is good.

About this Song:
This is the first monologue and song in SONG OF PLENTY, a “pop-musical story of a modern day Prodigal Son” I wrote it in 1974 and presented it publicly three times: at the First Baptist Church of Cambridge, Maryland; at an evening worship service at Long Wharf in Cambridge; and once at a Methodist church in Vienna, Maryland.  I regret not being able to remember the name of that church.

The singers were Jestine Pryor and Jack Wright, the pianist was Billy Tilghman, and I played bass guitar. Debbie, my wife at that time, did the dramatic reading of the monologues between songs to a flute accompaniment played originally by Janet Carr and later by Connie Anderson.

You can find the songs from this musical (plus the short Prelude) on my website. If you like, you can open that window and listen to the songs while following the words here. Regretfully, the sound quality of the original recording makes it impractical to include the reading of the monologues.

Coming next Wednesday: the second song, “Silver and Gold.”

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

             

Links you might be interested in:

 

 

Posted in Christian Musical, Gold, Narration, Silver, Song of Plenty | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let The Whole Earth Ring!

Let the whole earth ring
With a shout of great joy
To the Lord, the King of Kings!
We serve Him gladly and obey His commandments,
And we sing glad songs
When we enter His presence.

We come into His gates with thanksgiving
And enter His courts with praise;
We thank Him for who He is
And praise His holy name.

Let the whole earth ring
With a shout of great joy
To the Lord, the King of Kings!
We serve Him gladly and obey His commandments,
And we sing glad songs
When we enter His presence.

We know He’s our Creator;
We didn’t make ourselves.
We’re sheep, and He’s our Shepherd.
We’re servants; He’s our Lord.

Let the whole earth ring
With a shout of great joy
To the Lord, the King of Kings!
We serve Him gladly and obey His commandments,
And we sing glad songs
When we enter His presence.

The Lord has been so good to us;
His love has never failed.
We know His promises will keep coming true
In all the years to come.

Let the whole earth ring
With a shout of great joy
To the Lord, the King of Kings!
We serve Him gladly and obey His commandments,
And we sing glad songs
When we enter His presence.

About This song:
One Thanksgiving Day years ago–probably during the early 1980s–I sat down on the floor of my living room and surrounded myself with different translations of the Bible.

These are several of the ones I used:

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2     Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.
New International Version (NIV)

1 Sing to the Lord, all the world!
2 Worship the Lord with joy;
    come before him with happy songs!
3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God.
    He made us, and we belong to him;
    we are his people, we are his flock.
4 Enter the Temple gates with thanksgiving;
    go into its courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise him.
5 The Lord is good;
    his love is eternal
    and his faithfulness lasts forever.
Good News Translation (GNT)

Why was I so interested in Psalm 100 that day? Because it best expressed what Thanksgiving means to me, and I felt inspired to turn those words into a new song, while remaining as true to the meaning of the Scripture as possible. Click here for a PDF lead-sheet.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you won’t be surprised that I took a few liberties with the words. Did you notice the one major change I made? I switched what should have been the first and second stanzas. I don’t remember why.

I never let Thanksgiving pass without singing this song many times. And now that I’m involved in an almost-weekly nursing home ministry, the folks at the Ashland Nursing and Rehab Center can count on hearing me do it for them each year.

No matter where or when this Psalm is sung–or how the words are arranged–may the joy it expresses reflect your feelings of thanksgiving for the countless blessings God provides day in and day out.

What are you thankful for today? Please share a comment.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

               

Links you might be interested in:

 

 

 

Posted in God's love, God's Provision, PDF, Praise, Psalm 100, Psalms, Thanksgiving, The Devil and Pastor Gus, Uncategorized, Worship | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lord, You Planned Me

Lord, You planned me before I was conceived.
Lord, You planned me and then made sure that
Things went according to Your perfect plan.
Lord, You planned me.
Lord, You planned me.

Then at birth You gave me choice
To follow You or run and stumble
On my own disastrous, catastrophic way.

Lord, You loved me before I was conceived.
Lord, You loved me, although You know how
Far I’d run before I turned to You.
Lord, You loved me.
Lord, You loved me.

Then at birth You gave me choice
To follow You or run and stumble
On my own disastrous, catastrophic way.

About this song:
Psalm 139 has always been one of my favorite Scripture passages. The idea that someone as big as God–and who can imagine how huge He must be?–has known me from the beginning of time blows my mind whenever I think about it.

I mean, how could He possibly keep me straight among the billions of people who live on earth now, much less among all of the people who’ve lived here since He first created the world?

Yet I believe He knows every detail of my existence. That’s what the Bible tells me. He even knows where every hair that used to cover my bald head has gone. He knows more about me than I know about myself.

As if that’s not sufficiently overwhelming, the fact that He made sure I developed according to His plan and then set me free to do as I pleased is many steps beyond incomprehensible.

But He also knew I’d ultimately come back to Him. He didn’t make me love Him. He couldn’t do that. Enforced affection isn’t love.

He gave me His love–the real thing–and He wants the real thing back.

So He let me discover that He is so lovable I couldn’t fail to love Him. And if I love Him, I want to please Him.

So this song draws from Psalm 139 to express my amazement at God for loving me in spite of myself.

Some of you may resent my pointing this out, but Psalm 139 is a clear indication that the Bible is Pro-Life.

You can find a free lead sheet of this song in the drop down box found on the Lead Sheets tab at the top of this page.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

              

Links you might be interested in:

 

 

 

Posted in Baby, Body, Conception, Created, Creation, Freedom, God's love, God's plan, Human, Lead Sheets, Life, Living, Psalm 139 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen for the Still, Small Voice

If you have come to hear me sing
With a beautiful voice,
Then I’m afraid you may be a bit disappointed,
For this is the voice I’ve got.

Listen for the still, small voice.
Listen for the still, small voice instead.

If you have come to hear me play
With a modern flair,
Then I’m afraid you may be a bit disappointed,
For this is the way I play.

Listen for the still, small voice.
Listen for the still, small voice instead.

If you have come to hear to my songs
Done in a professional way,
Then I’m afraid you may be a bit disappointed,
For this is the way they are.

Listen for the still, small voice.
Listen for the still, small voice instead.

About This Song:
I wrote this song years ago to open the occasional musical programs I was asked to do, and I decided to name my blog after this song.

Although I’ve never felt as confident about my singing or playing as I’ve wanted, I didn’t intend for this somewhat song to be an apology for my musical shortcomings. That’s why it’s somewhat whimsical.

I’ve always thought of my song lyrics as a letter to listeners and the music as the envelope I mail them in. So my desire was to do my best and pray I did sufficiently well for the “letter” to be successfully delivered.

But that required the help of God’s Holy Spirit. To help me do my best. And to enable listeners to hear what God wanted them to hear in my songs.

I’m afraid I’ve heard a number of Christian songs that don’t say anything significant to me. They seem like all envelope.

Yet they’re popular.

That’s one of the important reasons I write Christian songs. My songs say what I think God wants me–as well as other people–to hear.

To see a lead sheet for this song, click on the lead sheets tab at the top of this page and find “Listen for a Still, Small Voice” in the drop down box.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

          

Links you might be interested in:

 

 

 

Posted in God's Voice, Holy Spirit, Music, Significance, Songs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment