A Song For Mourning Turned to Gladness

“Gone are the Days” by the Gray Havens and Julie Odnoralov

I’ve posted the original version of this song in the past, but I really enjoy this remix as well. The lyrics look back, post-death, to the sufferings of this life and the new reality of sorrow turned to gladness.

It is a fitting song for today, when I get to attend a very special wedding. My mom, widowed twenty eight years, is getting remarried. Her new husband is himself a widower, and one of his daughters one of my classmates and friends from high school in Melanesia. As such, it is a very different kind of wedding, where everyone’s thoughts are not only on the bride and groom, but also on the parents and spouses who have departed and gone to be with Jesus. There has been great loss, but there is also new joy.

He makes all things new. This song, and this wedding, provide me glimpses of how he will do this for all eternity.

A Song on The Loudest and Loveliest Sound

Walking alone through the woods
There's a roar that cannot be denied
Constant and loud
A sound that surrounds
It beckons you come and find 

But you drown it out
So sure that it's something you could do without
Your heart is still hard 
So you disregard the loudest and loveliest sound

Oh won't you come where the water is white
Let it shove you under
Let is steal your might 
And when you surface downstream 
For the first time
You will be free

You're keeping busy so you stay sane 
And were you to stop 
You would hear your real name
So stop your ignoring, come find the roaring
Come back to from where you came 

Oh won't you come where the water is white
Let it shove you under
Let is steal your might 
And when you surface downstream 
For the first time
You will be free

-“Waterfall” by Joel Ansett

A Song on High Priests

“Peace on Earth/A Conversation” by The Psallos

In truth these are two songs, transitioning at the 1:30 mark. Both are exploring the theme in Hebrews of Jesus being our great high priest. It’s a fun pairing of theology, typology, and some creative banter. Some select lines:

I see your point, but you gotta see mine,
These men were appointed by God's design.

Designed to die? 

No, designed to sympathize 
With the lives of the Israelites.

I think you might be losing your mind there, Thom!
Sympathy's not going to save.

I know, but listen to what I'm saying, Kelsie!
These guys are like shadows and types. 

Yeah, ineffectual types. 

Your guitar's an ineffectual type. 

But what we can agree on is this,
Jesus he is better, he is infinitely better, 
Blameless, spotless, sinless, righteous,
Able to fight this sinful-itis. 

Able to right these wrongs that plague us,
Able to sympathize with our weakness,
Cause he has taken on flesh to save us. 

A Song On Being Fully Known

You're in a place you think you know
Surrounded but you feel alone
You have a place to rest your head, but not a home

Feels like you lost yourself again
Sit in the silence of a friend
'Cause when you are fully known and loved, you have a home

The burden you choose to bear
That keeping yourself from those who care
Problems and pride play hide and seek, you're unaware

That all of the things you keep concealed
One day are bound to be revealed
We paint a picture of ourselves that isn't real

Feels like you lost yourself again
Sit in the silence of a friend
'Cause when you are fully known and loved, you have a home...

“Known and Loved” by Joel Ansett

A Song on the House of God

Sojourn Music has done it again. This is a song that celebrates what has been called The Great Reversal, how the kingdom of God lifts up those the world despises and brings them full and eternal restoration in God’s presence and house. These things are coming true, imperfectly though truly in this age, but wonderful and complete in the age to come.

Blessed are the ones who will eat the feast in the kingdom of God
Blessed are the blind that will finally see in the kingdom of God
Blessed are the poor, oppressed, and abused
Blessed are the weak, distressed, and accused
When you strike up the band...

“Your House” by Sojourn Music

A Song on Gloryland

We’ll need no sun in gloryland

The moon and stars won’t shine

For Christ himself is light up there

He reigns on love divine

Then weep not friends

I’m going home

Up there we’ll die no more

No coffins will be made up there

No graves on that bright shore

“Gloryland” by Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys

I like the haunting beauty of this A Cappella bluegrass song. Bluegrass harmony is itself a lovely thing, but notice also the earthiness of the suffering mentioned in this song and how the theology of heaven provides strength to face death. Was there in previous ages of evangelicalism an underdeveloped understanding of salvation? Sure. Forgiveness of sin and eternal life in heaven were emphasized to the exclusion of the Spirit’s power for true life in this age and the ultimate hope of the new heavens and new earth. But I think we often underestimate how practical this focus on victory over death was for a humanity that simply faced death on a more constant basis.

My grandmother’s line were all Scotch-Irish stock who spent their lives in the mountains and coal mines of West Virginia. All the men were miners. And all died early of black lung. Infant mortality would have been exponentially higher than it is now. I suspect that if we feel any smug superiority to the bluegrass theology of the coal miners, that might also say something about how hard we in the West have tried to isolate ourselves from pain and death.

A Song For Those Made For Endless Summer

I really love this new song by the Gray Havens. “Have you ever missed somewhere that you’ve never been?” Yes… yes I have. Reminds me of this quote of Augustine’s where he muses on the “memory” of Eden that each of us somehow carries.

However, I have to say that while endless summer in North America sounds lovely, an endless summer in our corner of Central Asia – with its 115 F/46 C temps – is not quite as pleasant a prospect. Can I have an endless spring, perhaps? Much better for eternal picnics.

A Song For Pilgrims

“Pilgrim” by John Mark McMillan

I’ve been enjoying this song a lot recently as we’ve once again been a family in transition. Moving cities has highlighted our identity as pilgrims and nomads, those who have no lasting city here, but who seek the city that is to come (Heb 13:14). I also appreciate the tension present in this song, recognizing that there are many things about this world that we do love, “the smell of the grinding sea,” yet we are also compelled to seek another world, an abiding one.

The remix below is also worth checking out. My kids and I have enjoyed bobbing our heads while we listen to it and drive around our Central Asian city.