new single

Posted: February 19, 2013 in Music
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A little while ago I did a re-write of a song of mine that I originally recorded back in 1980 – some of you may even remember it!

Having performed this rehashed version a little while ago, someone asked if it was available as a recording.  Not wishing to re-release the really old one (which is very different from the new version anyway), I decided to knuckle down and record the re-write and here it is now available as a single

At a time when I seem to be entering a new era of creativity, ministry opportunities and personal spiritual walk, the song now seems as appropriate as ever

You can listen to the song here – – and, if you like what you hear, you can download it for free (or a donation) along with other songs


In a recent “worship time” (I do wish we would change the ways we describe some aspects of what we do when we meet together!) we were singing a song that has the lyric “To the widow and the orphan, Let the river of Your justice flow through us”

It’s a good, thoughtful song; but I couldn’t help but begin to think how easy it is to sing about some subjects without giving thought as to what they might imply in our contemporary western context.  Of course, NT scripture makes several references to caring for widows and orphans and, although I’m no expert on this, I’m guessing that widowhood was more common in those times as girls would be married to older men who died whilst their wives were still comparatively young.  There would have been no insurance coverage or benefits system and probably little opportunity for the widow to earn an income for herself, unlike today.  Similarly, excepting tragedy, we are not so often likely to see children orphaned in our modern society (again I’m referring to our own society rather than situations we may find elsewhere)

How easy it is to romanticise the idea of caring for “the widow and the orphan” when expressing the thought through the poetry of a “worship song” (see what I did with the quote marks again there?!)  What would the song sound like if we were to contextualise it for our own town or culture?  Somehow, though, singing the line “To the single mums, those struggling on benefits, and the homeless…” (insert your own thoughts there) wouldn’t sound quite as neat – maybe we’d even find it embarrassing to sing such words, even if they did scan with the verse 

Clearly the church has a responsibility to show justice and bring aid and kindness to all who are broken (including those who have lost loved ones) but this is no romantic, mystical notion.  Yes, our emotions should be stirred, but the outworking must surely be practical and immediate.  That’s why we read in Acts 6 that seven people were specifically appointed to deal with food distribution with the specific task of making sure that the widows (again insert a contemporary context here) were not overlooked.   Presumably some kind of funding must have been made available for this as well?

Food for thought?


how sweet the name

Posted: January 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear Name, the rock on which I build
My shield and hiding place
My never-failing treasury filled
With boundless stores of grace

Maybe it’s a sign of getting (just a bit) older, but old hymns from my childhood seem to very readily and unexpectedly come to mind these days. This one’s been on my mind for a little while now and I’ve used it a couple of times already when leading worship

The last two lines of the above verse, kind of sum up how filled with gratitude I am at the moment. And when I say “at the moment”, I don’t mean just at this particular second, minute or hour in time, but for a while now this has been my overwhelming emotion and thought. At this stage in our lives, Elaine and I feel so very blessed, both as we look back and look at the present and where God has brought us to. I’m discovering there’s nothing like learning to be content in Him

Incidentally, if you can, try to imagine the above to the tune of “Lloyd”. It’s surprised me how so few people are familiar with this tune – for me it’s the first one I think of to these words, but that’s probably because my Mum and Dad’s old church used to sing it to this tune and that’s where my memories lie

I’ve also added in my own refrain – hopefully before too long you’ll be able to hear that particular version on good old You Tube!

The writer of the lyrics is, of course, Joh Newton who also wrote Amazing Grace

“Weak is the effort of my heart
And cold my warmest thought
But When I see Thee as Thou art
I’ll praise Thee as I ought”

“I pray… that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you” Eph 1 v 18

John Newton1725-1807

John Newton

chilled day

Posted: December 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Had a lovely chilled out day today.  No, not just sitting around, or catching up on Christmas TV (thankfully, didn’t do much of that at all this Christmas)……   In between very enjoyable family visits, I had a “free” day, so I set my ipod to shuffle (currently on a Mark Knopfler song after a number from DelAmitri) and just got on with catching up on one or two work related things, which included getting my study/studio nearer completion having moved from one room to another

I have to say, doing these things not because I have to today, but just because I want to, has been very relaxing.  Along the way, I’ve been reflecting on how very grateful I am – mainly from a spiritual point of view as to where I find myself dwelling these days

So as I leave you for now, while allowing a bit of Nicole Nordeman to waft over me (a reflective song called “Anyway”), may I take this opportunity to pray that your 2013 is at least as blest as my 2012 has been.

My 2013? – I’m hoping those creative juices start flowing……

Another gig?

Posted: December 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

I don’t get to other people’s gigs often.  To be honest, some can be a bit mediocre and I went to this evening’s expecting more of the same.

I was pleasantly surprised.  I was quickly totally engrossed and drawn in by the musicianship and songwriting skill of  Paul Bell (I even forgot to use my camera!)  He was providing just under an hour’s worth of music at a  pretty formal cheese and wine evening – I could’ve listened for much longer.  What could have been a fairly “quiet” evening became a very enjoyable one – thank you Paul for reminding me how much good music can move, relax, stimulate the mind, etc.

Back home, I now feel thoroughly refreshed, chilled out – like a good wine (but without the hangover!)

from Gigs to Gatwick

Posted: December 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

Very much enjoyed recording a new track today – a Chris Rea cover (to be revealed on Friday night at The Cricketers gig). Will also be doing Lay Down Your Sorrows (Kate York) and hoping to learn Cliff’s “C’mon Everybody” between now and Friday evening.  I’m so enjoying this new venture and can feel my skills being honed even more as I stretch myself to embrace a broader range of material

Tomorrow, though, a shift of focus as I wave goodbye to my son and daughter in law as they leave to begin their new life across the pond. 

sowing seeds

Posted: November 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Shirehampton, Bristol, 1950s.  When the area was finished there would be a green play area amongst the houses, but back then it was a few piles of rubble left over from the building work

The white bearded, stocky man who mysteriously appeared, sat down on the pavement next to the rubble, took out his concertina and began to sing and play.  Wearing his woolly hat and his big boots with thick socks riding over the top, he could perhaps have been a sailor from one of the boats at the nearby docks

As he began to sing, kids from the nearby houses came out to sit and listen….  “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam…..”,  “Jesus loves me this I know…..”   They were captivated, as was Elaine; she was fascinated – there was something about this man and his songs

 Elaine (who is now my wife) tells me that looking back she realises that those were the first seeds sown in her heart of faith and belief (she’d not had the experience of any spiritual input from her family or a church background)

 I guess the singing sailor (if that’s what he was) has no idea about the fruit that resulted from the seed he sowed that day.  Elaine says he’s one of the first people she wants to say “thank you” to if we get to be able to do that when we “shake off this mortal coil”

Sometimes, God only knows what affect we have on others through the things we do, the words we say, the songs we sing, the pictures we paint; but the seeds sown may well have fallen on good ground that will bear fruit all in good time….                                 

…and that’s why I go sing my songs in schools.