Messiah musings

The news I heard was guaranteed
To thrill and to inspire
Bradford’s choral outfit
Singing Handel’s great ‘Messiah’

Each Wednesday night, I walked through rain
Autumnal chill and dark
To master quavers, trills and scales
And warble like a lark

Through crotchet clusters, nests of notes
I wandered like a maze
But practised hard, so by the night
I’d warble quite unfazed

I love the light and airy parts
Those trills that flutter high
‘His yoke is easy, burden light’
‘And he shall purify’

On the evening, wide the doors
Flung open, what a night
The choir rang out, the solos soared
The music bubbled bright

A choir in full and hearty voice
Is like a bird in flight;
A joy to sing a work so filled
With grace and power and light

Image: Bradford Festival Choral Society performing ‘Messiah’, 19th November 2022

Audio:

Rethinking Remembrance

We may find a multitude of ways to remember
Sacrifices made, this day each November
And whether we wear poppy red, poppy white
In the square, in a churchyard, in the soft autumn light
Or at home, or even if we don’t mark it at all
Conflicts, some present, exert still a call
On our minds and our hearts to give pause and reflection
Consider, is there some substantial connection
Between those who struggle, and our more comfortable lives
Far from child soldiers under African skies
Or those in Ukraine, or Iran, where they fight
Against varying tyrannical forms, out of sight…
When part of you hurts, the whole body feels pain
It’s how we should be, when one person is maimed
So let us be conscious, seek out and discern
Where conflict is happening, to direct our concern
And find out the cause – resources, or land –
Which ignited the flame, let it get out of hand
Put ourselves in their shoes, empathise, and yeah, pray
Take some action perhaps – and though it doesn’t go away
We can lift up the hurting, joining hands, joining hearts
And imagine a future – where war finally departs

Image by Annette Jones from Pixabay

For BBC local, and community radio

A fair COP?

It might not have slipped your attention or sight:
The COP conference – straight after Bonfire Night
The occasion of gunpowder, treason and plot
Coincides with a push – to stop Earth getting hot
The gig is in Egypt (famously dry
Like the powder lined up to blow Parliament high)
But while these events enjoy similar fame
I don’t for one moment pretend they’re the same
While Guy and his gang tried a massive explosion
The Earth’s plight is more like a drawn out implosion
And though we light fireworks to remember Guy Fawkes
It’s less likely COP will see popping of corks
Let’s hope the steps there are not sticking plaster
It’d be nice if we stave off a slow burn disaster

Image by David Garry from Pixabay

‘Stranger Things’ soliloquy

On my phone just lately, among the clicks and pings
Something strange was happening, tied to ‘Stranger Things’
If like me you’ve missed it, it’s a Netflix show
Which resurrects an eighties hit, and half the world’s gone “Oh…
This song is rather good”, and if you’re puzzled still
The track that I’m referring to, is ‘Running up that hill’
The work of one elusive Mrs Bush, that’s her, it’s Kate
If you don’t know her songs yet, well, it’s ‘better late…’
In a scene from Stranger Things, a teenager called Max
Is levitating, eyes all funny, having bad attacks
I won’t go into detail; it’s out there, all online
Suffice to say that Max is stressed, depressed and far from fine
Oppressed by troubling thoughts, and Venca’s foul embrace
A bad un, who won’t give Max, a lot of free head space
Her friends dig out her favourite song, this striking eighties hit
And basically it saves her, that’s the gist, that’s it
It gets me thinking, what oppresses us, and me, and then
What do we, and I, turn to, to make us whole again?
If a piece of music helps life run a smoother course
What if I could tap into a deeper, richer Source?

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Toxic 3 – Hope

Something that doesn’t quite fill me with mirth –
Thinking a moment about the future of earth –
Is, how will we come to a place where we care
About something so far off, remote, over there?
We hear about it, but how we can be troubled by heating
The global kind, when impacts here are so fleeting?
I wonder, if we’re to move past a short-sighted view
Do we need to look deeper at ourselves a bit too
We could do with regaining a perspective quite rare
A fuller and richer vision of care
We’d do worse than recover some wisdom of old
To move from being small to big-hearted and bold
We might even shift from the selfish rat race
To relate more, and move in the rhythms of grace
What if behind everything there’s a power
Of love and of good, which we need in this hour
If we’re made in the image of God, that gives scope
To move forward determined, with courage and hope
To give up addictions and foul toxic ways
Pursue a strong future for all, for always

Broadcast on Premier Christian Radio

Olympics & Justice

This radiant contest, this sparkling thing:

The Olympics, a spectacle to make the heart sing

Gathering of rare-gifted sporting elite

The strong and the skilled, the honed and the fleet;

And yet a pandemic asks us to stop

Revise our obsession with those at the top

Take a step back, embrace a collective

Overdue appraisal, a change of perspective;

Just a suggestion, a novel idea

For you now, immersed in the Olympics this year:

As you marvel at those at their physical peak

Can you also make space in your heart – for the weak?

For those indisposed and with no chance to shine

On such a big stage, no medal to mine;

As you praise the perfected, think too of the poor

Remember the values the Olympics stand for;

Excellence, friendship, equality, respect

Are just a selection of good ones, and yet

Why stop with those, why not increase

Our struggle for justice, our wrestling for peace;

Running for goodness, a deep dive for truth

Not minding if I look unhinged or uncouth

And let’s not go solo, into this fight

Team up and dream up, keep hope in sight

And when you are tempted to drop off the pace

Look up and be helped by that rare thing – called grace.

Broadcast on BBC Radio Solent & Premier Christian Radio

Image by Thomas Wolter at Pixabay.

Audio:

A more beautiful game?

I won’t soon forget, being with a crowd

In a pub, watching England, it was really quite loud

I’m no diehard fan, but it was difficult to frown

On so many jumping for joy up and down

They whooped and they shouted, then did so some more

I was shocked that more beer wasn’t knocked on the floor

It’s a remarkable thing, this national obsession

A lightning rod for so much delight – and aggression

So much devotion for these heroes adored

So much emotion when one of them’s scored

It’s an art, a kind of worship, it’s been called a religion

Overstatement? – you think so, but that’s for the pigeons

There’s simply nothing else that arouses such passion

I used to think there was, but that view’s out of fashion;

But the question that I really want to ask here today

Is where do we turn, when it’s all gone away

This grappling with overblown hope, or despair

What do we do when it’s no longer there?

Here’s a little insight, a hunch, just a feeling:

I’m not sure that football’s got a high enough ceiling

To let the human spirit fully flourish and soar

I suspect that we’ll always well, want something more

Is there a bigger purpose, where we’re called to take part

A more ‘beautiful game’, a kind of ‘life work of art’ 

When the stadiums clear and the shouts fade away

Is there something that can help you in the mere day to day?

There’s a beautiful word, do you know it, called ‘grace’

It’s from God, it’s for each of us, it can light up a face

And I hold out the hope that every person, each nation

Is invited, one day, to a bigger celebration.

Image by tookapic from Pixabay

Lockdown Love (short version)

This Valentines, we’re all locked down – that’s guaranteed to make love frown
Steals its thunder, pushes it under, makes it blunder, takes its crown
And instead of a love-heart and flowers and take your loved one out
You’ll be lucky if your Beth or Bart just showers n doesn’t pout
If he just cooks, or she just books a takeaway tonight
At least content to look the part – not run for it in fright.

Love’s important, makes the world go round, and we want to express
It kinda neatly, not too sweetly, and keep calm, you know, not stress
But we still worry, frown and fret, and get all tense and anxious, yet
If we could just relax a bit, that’d be by far a better bet.

Love’s intense, can be immense, gets you-off the fence, spare no expense
You feel you’re flying, I’m not lying, gets you swooning, laughing, crying
You’ll scale a wall, feel ten feet tall, and ask “It’s late, can I still call?”
And agonise, fall down then rise – and then forget about it all.

I believe it – take or leave it – that the world vibrates with love
It’s all around, and it abounds, it’s deep within, without, above
As I learn to let it burn down in my heart and in my veins
I find I’m falling more in love with its melodious strains
This love divine, I let it shine in me, it fills and it redeems
Has power to transform human love, so  – with glory – it gleams.    

For BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Bradford & other stations…

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

Audio:

Lockdown Love

February fourteenth, Valentines, red hearts, romance – you know the signs
The ads and fads (a lot quite bad), the schmaltz and cheesy lines
They say that love is blind, it’s in the heart and in the mind
But every February we find, the usual tropes revert to kind
We’ll take any chance to shine – with just a sweet romantic line…

This year we’re all locked down – that’s guaranteed to make love frown
Steals its thunder, pushes it under, makes it blunder, takes its crown
And instead of a love-heart and flowers and take your loved one out
You’ll be lucky if your Beth or Bart just showers n doesn’t pout
If one just cooks, or the other books a fancy takeaway tonight
At least content to look the part – not run for it in fright.

The day of love, when push comes to shove, is actually always fraught
Because we’re human, we get in a stew man, and it’s easy to get caught
In all the pressure, expectation, and some bad sleep deprivation
In houses up and down the land, and all across the nation
Love’s important, makes the world go round, and we want to express
It kinda neatly, not too sweetly, and keep calm, you know, not stress
But we still worry, frown and fret, and get all tense and anxious, yet
If we could just relax a bit, that’d be by far a better bet.

This is me now, don’t you see now, I’m just talkin’ as one fella
I’m no Valentine-o fanboy, I’m no ‘day of romance’ seller
If I was I’d leave now cos I’ve no ambition to be toast
I’ll just say hey, you know, we all want to be loved by someone most
It’s so intense, you know, immense, gets you-off the fence, spare no expense
You feel you’re flying, I’m not lying, gets you swooning, laughing, crying
You’ll scale a wall, feel ten feet tall, and ask “It’s late, can I still call?”
And agonise, fall down then rise – and then forget about it all.

What makes this one day special is the secrecy of course
To be the admirer of Luke or Lyra, speak in code, you know, like morse
And there’s something we adore, we want it more, the mystery
Of wondering ‘who loves me?’; I don’t mean brotherly or sisterly
When you send a card, and be a love bard, you get a magic thrill, a shiver
Like running down a bank and jumping starkers in a river
And if you find you’ve got that kind of place in someone’s heart
There ain’t no poet that can quite express the feeling, there’s no art. 

(pause).
But the thing that most excites me, daily smites me, makes me quiver
Is to think these tributaries of love flow to a bigger river
The mystery of love at Valentines – it leads us on
And shows us something deep about the heart of things, no con
I believe it – take or leave it – that the world vibrates with love
It’s all around, and it abounds, it’s deep within, without, above
As I learn to let it burn down in my heart and in my veins
I find I’m falling more in love with its melodious strains
This love divine, I let it shine in me, it fills and it redeems
Has power to transform human love, so  – with glory – it gleams.    

For BBC Radio Leeds & other stations…

Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

Audio:

Audio