Monday, March 28, 2011

More Modern Psalms for Lenten Journey; Manchester Orchestra

I continue to be enriched by the quest through “Modern Psalms for the Lenten Journey.” Even more, the songs suggested by students in the Imago Dei Youth Ministry remind me over and again that the Spirit of God is alive and well in the theological and prophetic imaginations of today’s adolescents. In a previous post I highlighted Mumford and Sons and their album, "Sigh No More". I learned rather quickly how much my students are entrenched in their lyrical creativity and musical brilliance. Many had even attended their quickly-sold out concert in Philly this past year. However, many of them also were left in awe when they engaged the album’s theological overtones that crafted a beautiful Lenten path to the cross as they “held on hope” for an Easter resurrection. It was even enlightening to learn that recently Marcus Mumford’s parents had been in Brooklyn in conversation with U.S. Vineyard Church communities [1], the tradition that formed and fed many of the band's members.

Yet the dialectic journey that holds in tension the contemporary prophets of modern music and the still-speaking biblical witness does not end there. Instead, one of my students suggested we engage Manchester Orchestra [2] and their postmodern hymn, “The River.” I was not disappointed:

I fought the Spirit with a sword in my side
Cheat...What a way out.
Crack my rib, wait to die,
I think I know you the best when I sleep
I think I know everything
Me and my brothers, we have tongues sharp as knives
I found a way out, make a noise, close your eyes
I think I talk to you best when I sing
I sing about almost everything

Oh God I need it
So let me sing again.
Take me to the river
And let me see again
Oh my God
Let me see again
Oh my God

Let me see again
Let me see again

Grace taught a debtor
Daily I'm strained to be
God how I feel it
Fetter pride to Your feet

I'm going to leave You the first chance I get
I'm going to leave You the first chance I get
I'm going to leave You the first chance I get
I'm going to leave You the first chance I get

Oh God I need it
Well I was wrong again
Take me to the river
And make me clean again

Oh my God
Make me clean again
Oh my God
Let me see again.

After I listened to the song over and again, to include many discernments about the poetic references and proper lyrical compositions, it was apparent that, much like “Thistles and Weeds” by Mumford & Sons, this song also spoke to the season of lament. Moreover, not only were the Psalms potential inspirations for this track, but also the ancient hymn, “Come Thou Fount.”  Essentially, Manchester Orchestra interweaves honest confessions with intense longings for deliverance throughout each poetic stanza. One cannot help but hear echoes of the psalmists along with God’s people past and present, all who thirst for the river that cleanses and liberates all humanity and all of creation.

And may the Orchestra's prayer, be our prayer this Lent, Oh God we need it, take us to the river and make us clean again…

Recommended Scriptures for Meditation: 
Psalm 36; Psalm 42; Psalm 51

2011 Modern Psalms for the Lenten Journey (Thus Far)
1. "Hard to Be" (David Bazan)
2. "Thistle and Weeds" (Mumford & Sons)
3. "The River" (Manchester Orchestra)

[1] John and Eleanor Mumford, Marcus' parents, are national directors of the Vineyard Church in the United Kingdom.  A friend of mine recently spoke with them while they were visiting the States.
[2] Relevant Magazine iterviewed the group in their March/April 2009 issue: (see p. 74).

1 comment:

  1. Hey Greg, It's Ed from Starbucks. You can get a glimpse of some of my beliefs at my blog