who is my neighbour?

Time to share a new worship song … and a bit of the journey behind it.
Who is my neighbour? I’m sure unsurprisingly is inspired by the almost-iconic Parable of the Good Samaritan (as it’s known) of Jesus found in Luke 10:25-37 of the Bible.

Plenty of songs of all shapes and sizes and genres out there about sharing compassion, making sacrifices, following Christ’s call to love and so on. Not so many which weave in multiple themes of that parable together. In Who is my neighbour? I’ve sought to blend in:

  • Jesus’ Go and do likewise command at the end of the native – the punchline in so many ways
  • The question to Jesus from the “expert in the law” – “Who are (emphasis mine) my neighbours” v. 29
  • the connections with the two great commandments uttered in verse 27 – Love the Lord your God with … and love your neighbour as you love yourself
  • the real, practicable imperatives bound up in being “good samaritans”; hence the lyric in the song’s 2nd verse: Wherever, however, Whoever, whenever 
  • Wrapping the whole song together with Christ’s call to love.

Most songs, to be frank “come together” very quickly. It’s long been like that. If I have to struggle to put a song together, it usually means the song lacks spontaneity, “hook” etc. This one has been different somehow. It’s moved from being in E minor to the current A minor; 3/4 to 4/4 time. Folk-country to the current light-rock feel.

I also found myself stretched as I crafted the lyric backing video below. I realised that “good samaritanship” meant including (in the video) those suffering from the likes of family violence, war or being refugees or asylum seekers. The video underwent a few iterations.

Anyhow, it’s inspired me – this parable I’ve know since childhood – to not only reflect long on its many messages, but I pray to act. As the 2nd verse concludes: Will I cross to the other side?
Blessings,
David
leadsheet mp3 backing w. melody

Who is my neighbour?

Who is my neighbour?
My sister, my brother?
Who am I called to love?
Is it friend
Is it stranger 
The one deep in danger 
Who am I called to love?

Called by the Holy One
Loving with all I am
All of my soul, and mind and strength 
Loving my neighbour whole
With all my heart, mysoul
Loving as I will love myself

Who is my neighbour?
Will I break down the barriers
Know Christ in my neighbour’s cry?
Wherever, however 
Whoever, whenever 
Will I cross to the other side?

Called by the Holy One …

Bridge
Called to love (x4)

Called by the Holy Oneas I will love myself

David MacGregor
© 2022 Willow Publishing                     
inspired by Luke 10:25-37

“Strange and interesting times”

A treasured and sadly-departed mentor of mine, Don Whebell would often remark how we live “in strange and interesting times”. So true, Don. Always so true, Don.

I reflect on what Dale and I have been part of … or will be … or won’t be. Work, ministry, music, life, faith. So – a few snippets from these “strange and interesting times”.

I’m off this afternoon to the 16th National Assembly meeting of my church, the Uniting Church in Australia.

I continue to connect to the national church through my being on the national Transforming Worship Panel. Going deeper into retirement, all things worship and music I sense will continue to be on the radar for me. That’s good. The four-day gathering will be at what is in so many ways, my spiritual and formative home, the church’s Alexandra Park centre on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast – ministry-central for me in my twenties and early thirties. It will be good to be back there, engaging with a church in transition, adapting creatively and missionally with the “times”.

Of course, Dale and I just over a week ago, launched our PSALMSONGS 30-track collection of worship songs, including 16 Psalm settings. I’m leaning deeper and deeper into what is surely “God’s prayerbook” – as it names the human condition in all its variance, while acknowledging God’s hope and presence and grace. We’ve been heartened by the responses to PSALMSONGS received. Thanks.
Here’s the launch video.

Talking music, songs keep coming. Impacted by Jesus’ words in John 13: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you, as so often happens these days, I woke up in the middle of the night a few days back with the embryo of a worship song on this. It became As I Have Loved You. Here it is, though I’m not sure whether it’s best as a congregational worship song or a song more-suited to individual reflection or presentation. You decide. Here it is.

Long story … and I won’t go into too many details … but next week, Dale will be working for a fortnight (relieving someone on carer’s leave) at her old school. A few readjustments to make this happen. All said, we both think it’s good that this has opened up. I pray Dale will have the energy. No issues with the gifts and skills (it’s in her field of Christian Education).

I’ll miss Mother’s Day this weekend, as I’ll be at Assembly. I remember my own mother, Eleanor MacGregor – she passed away when I was 22; she was 49. I miss her badly. One day, in the fullness of heavenly life, Dale will meet her with me for the first time. I thank God for the love Dale continues to shower on our three wonderful sons, and grandson Jules – who I’ll miss seeing tomorrow. Just can’t sing Daddy’s taking us to the zoo, tomorrow. It’ll have to be Mommy’s taking us

Dale and I have had COVID19 recently. Knocked us around a bit, but compared to so many others, I think we got off lightly. At least an excuse to order in Uber Eats! I pray for those whose health and livelihood have been impacted severely.

Starting in about a fortnight, Dale and I embark on the first of two big times of travel for 2022. Later in the year, we’re heading for most of two months to USA and Canada – playing tourist and spending time with family. In two weeks we’re off to North Queensland to enjoy time with special friends in Cairns and Charters Towers. To top it off, we travel from Cairns to Queensland by train on the Spirit of Queensland. Railbed (think of Queensland Rail business class) most of the way. That will be a treat. Can’t wait.

And then … I’ve just completed a fulfilling second three-month half-time supply ministry stint at the Uniting Church at Jacaranda St, Ipswich – just west of Brisbane. Some possibility of more ministry there come June, but it’s all part of an evolving and somewhat challenging ministry mix in greater Ipswich. Dale and I agree I’ve been able to “do” the half-time ministry much better this second period. By and large, I managed to keep to the time management boundaries I put in place.

Finally, my rugby league team the Brisbane Broncos last night won its third game in a row. They’ve wine 5 out of 9 so for this season. They are currently in 6th position (of 16). Who would have thought?

But then, who would have thought that the sovereign nation of Ukraine would have been so pillaged by the ruthlessness and evil of Putin’s regime. Yes, Don, “strange and interesting times, indeed”.

Shalom,
David

Blessed Be

Songwriter me always likes a challenge. Here’s the most-recent one.

I look ahead to my church’s set readings (called a Lectionary) and note that Sunday 13 February’s gospel reading is Luke 6:17-26. Its counterpart is the Beatitudes offered by Christ in Matthew 5; ones that are far better known. Why? At least two reasons: they are longer, more comprehensive and for me, more evocative. Secondly, they don’t include “the woes” found in Luke 6. The woes? Words like these:

“But woe to you who are rich,

    for you have already received your comfort.

Woe to you who are well fed now,

    for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now,

    for you will mourn and weep.

Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,

    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:24-26 NRSV)

Ouch! I don’t see those words lyricized in too many old or recent worship songs. To be honest, I’ve written two Matthew 5-linked Beatitude songs over the years: Blessed and On Earth in Our Day. No “woes” in there.

So … how does songwriter me include these alongside “Luke’s Beatitudes”? Blessed Be is the result. Then another challenge arises. For some years I’ve followed both in print and onscreen, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Is “Blessed Be” a bit too close for comfort alongside the common “Praise be …” of that book and series?

Well … the Beatitudes, particularly when read in Luke are indeed close for comfort. So, minor key song it is. A banjo effect in much of the song. See what you think!

May you … blessed be,
David

May you … blessed be,
David
score

“Go” the Psalms … new song: “Faithful”

Faithful – from Ps 36:5-9

I find myself fascinated by the Book of Psalms, the Bible’s prayer book.

I know I’ve always been drawn to the Psalms. I’ve heard them read in church, reflected on them in my devotions, sung so many of them, gained both joy and comfort from so many of them.

I think … stop … I know it’s because they capture the whole gamut of human emotion and experience: joy and praise, thanksgiving, lament, confession, solace, comfort, assurance, exhortation, and more. As so many have said down the ages, a psalm can and does put in words what my mind, my heart, my lips may well struggle to form. Time and time again. That’s part of their resonance, again and again.

More and more, I’m coming around to feeling that my next music album project will be based on the Psalms. I did a stocktake recently. I’ve written 12 at least over the years – most, dare I suggest, of good quality. You judge! Yes, these twelve well-and-truly cover the various experience and emotion bases – adoration, lament, confession, praise, petition, thanksgiving …

Just a day or so into this year, I was noting that Psalm 36 comes up on 16 January in the Revised Common Lectionary’s set readings. It speaks of God’s love and faithfulness; how God promises us shelter and refuge in the shadow of God’s wings, to quote from verse seven.

So … I added to my psalm-song series. This one is simply called Faithful. Backing track with melody at this stage. I’ve taken longer than normal in honing both lyrics and music. Hope you find the psalm-song helpful, just as the writing and recording process has been for me.

Shalom, DAVID

leadsheet

Your love is ever faithful
It’s wider than the sky
Your faithfulnesses 
is higher than the clouds
Truer than the mountains
Your justice – ocean deep 
Your care for all creation
will ever be

You are faithful, O God.             
Love so faithful, O God.             
You are faithful, O God  
Ever faithful, O God 
                  

Your love is such a treasure 
Precious at its heart
We’ve refuge in
the shadow of your wings 
Your love is full, abundant
In you, is life, is home
You are living water
Lord, alone

You are faithful, O God …

INSTRUMENTAL

You are faithful, O God …

David MacGregor
©️ 2022 Willow Publishing  – From Psalm 36:5-9

faithfulness

I’m finding composing – be it songs – be it instrumentals, more and more fascinating. More and more intriguing. In the crafting is the growing.

Here I am yesterday. Aware of some important sharing that will take place this Sunday in the church I’m serving in, interim style. I’ve been musing over and over how this best happens.

Yesterday morning for example. With Dale I’m delighting in a morning swim nearby at Orion Lagoon … third this week. Into my head pops this extended chord sequence … the basis for a prayer prompt surrounding this sharing.

Couldn’t get it out of my head. Seemed so right … but it sounds familiar. So true … it’s the chords for the first part of the classic early 20th century hymn: Great Is Your Faithfulness. Yes, I need reminding as does the community I’m pastoring of God’s faithfulness over time immemorial. Our only and best response is to embrace that … in the ups, downs and middle times of living … including church living.

So … I wrote faithfulness around these chords, adding my own middle section. See what you think. May it bring you also to prayer, to faith, to gratitude. Shalom, DAVID

Faithfulness ©️ David MacGregor 2021


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