Anyway, one morning, just before the Angelus, I heard the above song-- 'El Shaddai', written by Michael Card, and most well-known as recorded by Amy Grant. The version I heard was sung by a man, and in a much more restrained manner than the Amy Grant version. It enchanted me and it has been in my head for three days now.
I've never really liked contemporary Christian music much-- or rather, what I've heard of it. I've listened to various Christian music channel and always found the music quite bland and insipid. I suppose the song I'm writing about here could easily be called bland and insipid, but I don't found it so. It sails very close to it, which is (strangely enough) part of what I like about it.
This is the funny thing. I've often complained about banal modern hymns on this blog, but the sort of hymns I do like are often quite similar in style to those banal modern hymns. I have nothing at all in principle against folksiness in Christian songs of worship. It just has to have that tinge of solemnity, of gravity, that makes all the difference. And, of course, it has to be good.
I know nothing about music, but as a piece of lyric-writing (which I do presume to speak on), I think the lyric of this piece is extremely well crafted. It has the kind of directness and simplicity that makes (in my opinion) for the very best religious songs (such as 'My Sweet Lord' by George Harrison or the simple 'Jesus Remember Me' Taizé hymn). I admire its grace, too. And the use of the Hebrew term gives it a certain exoticism which emphasizes the particularity of Christianity.
Having the song buzzing around makes me feel a renewed desire to write hymns. If I have any vocation to serve God through my writing, perhaps that is how I could best do it. Having attended the (secular) memorial services of both a cousin and a close friend in recent times, I was very struck by the fact that both of them (for they both knew they were dying) chose to have favourite songs played at their services. Nothing surprising in that, you may say, but I was very struck by the fact that verse-- so disregarded in most of day-to-day life-- is what we turn to at the 'big moments', and to express our 'big' feelings.
I have pondering the parable of the talents. I have often wondered what would have happened if the servants had lost their talents in bad investments. Presumably, this wouldn't have been held against them, if only they had made an honest effort...and perhaps it's impossible to lose your talent, when you honestly try to use it in God's service. Perhaps, seen from eternity, the very idea would be self-contradictory. But, at the same time, I'm sure we are supposed to use prudence and judgement in how we use our talents.
Recently, as mentioned previously, I decided to put ads on this blog. Do you know how much I've earned from this decision, so far? One cent. Literally one cent. It's a bit of a blow. It's been in existence since 2011, but it's never really 'taken off'. (True, I don't post as frequently as in its heyday, and consequently get less traffic.) I don't have any intention of giving it up-- some people like it, which is good enough for me, and I certainly like writing it-- but I do find myself wondering how I can have more of an effect, and reach more people.