29 May Music: Singin’ in the Rain, a Pentecost Offering
Melody Cooper, John Dennison, and Donald Goodhall have collaborated to produce a three-part Pentecost offering. Here, Donald has written and recorded a song on Pentecost titled “Singin’ in the Rain”. We suggest you listen to the song and then read the lyrics. In addition to this song, Melody has created a photo essay titled “There is a River” and John has written a poem titled “Pentecost”. Each offering is both unique and collaborative. We hope you enjoy this audio-visual journey.
I hear the sound of
A rushing rain
Go and look
Toward the sea
There is a river
Whose streams make glad
Turn and see
What he has done
Their leaves won’t wither
Their fruit won’t fail
For it flows
From the Throne
All who are thirsty, come
Come and drink freely, come
To the water of life
Son of man, do you see this?
(I’m singing in the rain)
This audio offering explores Pentecost through the images of river and rain, of water that comes to quench and nourish a dry and parched land. For many of us, this imagery will be familiar, for it is common to speak of the Holy Spirit in these ways. However, I have sought, by way of composition, to have these images (and the related biblical texts) appear in a new light and lead to fresh reflection.
The track begins with the sounds of rain. These are the sounds of the first significant rains in our drought-stricken region for many months (recorded on Sunday) and they undergird the song throughout. Instead of the three verses following on from each other, I have laid them one upon the other in order to evoke the feel of rain, of droplet dropping on droplet, of water pouring into water.
In verse one, Elijah’s words announce the end of a long-standing drought; the thirsty land will once again drink deeply of the water that sustains life (1 Kgs 18:41-46). Verse two draws upon Psalm 46 and its association of water with the presence of God (Ps 46:4; Ezek 47:1-6). The third verse captures a vision of abundance and flourishing that Ezekiel witnessed, a picture of shalom later described in Revelation when the Spirit renews the face of the earth (Ezek 47:6-12; Rev 22:1-5).
A second rationale for piling verse upon verse is to play with the connection between Babel and Pentecost. The rebellion manifest at Babel led to judgment: language was confused; humanity was scattered over the earth. The confusion led to isolation and estrangement. With the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, humankind is drawn together and brought into unity. The ‘many tongues’ of Babel are transfigured, giving way to the proclamation of God’s wonders.
The chorus sings out, proclaiming the generous invitation addressed to each of us: come and drink deeply of God’s life-giving Spirit (Isa 55:1; John 7:37-39; Rev 22:17). These lyrics, through which we are invited to understand ourselves with the Samaritan woman at the well addressed by Jesus (John 4), lead to a repeated question as the song moves toward its conclusion: “Son of man, do you see this?” The implication of this question that was once posed to Ezekiel as he stood by the river (Ezek 47:6) is that it is possible to not see, to not comprehend. It was, for the prophet, possible to miss the reality that was unfolding before him. “Eyes to see” and “ears to hear” are required to perceive what God is doing by his Spirit. The many imperatives amongst the lyrics (turn, see, go, look, come, drink) call us to be alert and responsive.
This Pentecost, may you again hear the sound of a rushing rain as it comes to quench the dry land. May you drink deeply of the Living Water. May you turn and see that the Spirit is making all things new as the river flows from God’s presence.
(Image: “There is a River” photo essay, by Melody Cooper)