• lenten journal: soul music

    by  • February 22, 2016 • lenten journal, music • 7 Comments

    When I asked for words to ponder during Lent, one friend offered two: soul music.

    As I started thinking about it, I began to think of songs, though not necessarily Motown. I began to think of songs that have spoken to me in recent times–some old, some new. Tonight, then, I offer a Lenten soundtrack of sorts. The first is from Kris Kristofferson: “Feeling Mortal.” The chorus says,

    God Almighty here I am
    am I where I ought to be
    I’ve begun to soon descend
    like the sun into the sea
    and I thank my lucky stars
    from here to eternity
    for the artist that you are
    and the man you made of me

    The next is from Sarah Jarosz and it’s a cover of a Tom Waits song called “Come On Up to the House.”

    well the moon is broken
    and the sky is cracked
    come on up to the house
    the only things that you can see
    is all that you lack
    come on up to the house

    all your cryin don’t do no good
    come on up to the house
    come down off the cross
    we can use the wood
    come on up to the house


    Peter Mayer is a singer-songwriter whom I have come to appreciate in recent years, though he has been around for awhile. His song “Holy Now” is a call to look at life in wonder.

    when holy water was rare at best
    it barely wet my fingertips
    but now I have to hold my breath
    like I m swimming in a sea of it
    it used to be a world half there
    heaven s second rate hand-me-down
    but I walk it with a reverent air
    cause everything is holy now

    Mavis Staples is a prophet of a singer, and this song speaks of the love that will not let us go: “You Are Not Alone.”

    a broken home, a broken heart
    isolated and afraid
    open up this is a raid
    I wanna get it through to you
    you’re not alone

    Our closing hymn is a song Paul Simon wrote in the mid-seventies, and yet it sings as though it were written yesterday. Here is “American Tune.”

    I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
    I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
    I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
    or driven to its knees
    oh, but it’s all right, it’s all right
    for lived so well so long
    still, when I think of the road
    we’re traveling on
    I wonder what went wrong
    I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

    Sing to the night, my friends. We don’t sing alone.



    Blogging since December 2005


    7 Responses to lenten journal: soul music

    1. February 23, 2016 at 12:06 am

      Balm for the weary soul…thanks!

    2. Deborah
      February 23, 2016 at 6:38 am

      What a way to begin my day! Soul food, indeed. Thanks, MIlton!

    3. Michael
      February 23, 2016 at 7:37 am

      Soul Music now has another definition for me.

    4. Jeff (no, the other one)
      February 23, 2016 at 8:43 am

      Soul music is more than Memphis or Al Green or Otis Redding and it comes from anyone, any place, and at any time. Blues may be “a good man feelin’ bad” and country may be “a man a guitar and pain”, but soul to me is always about joy in the moment, whatever that moment is. “I’ll Take You There” by the Staples Singers comes on and makes my heart feel good even after all this time, just for one example.

      • February 24, 2016 at 10:21 am

        I almost put that one in the post, Jeff. I love that song.


    5. Mary Ducey
      February 23, 2016 at 11:14 am

      Milton, Brigid’s daughter Clementine fell asleep in my arms yesterday while I was humming “Amazing Grace”. I was thinking about your love for “old time” hymns. I hope you find the peace I felt in that moment. Music fills our hearts. Thanks for the song list.

      • February 24, 2016 at 10:22 am

        I love the picture of you singing to her.


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