Arms Open Wide (Build Wider Tables) … leadsheet & YouTube video

Dale and I have done some more work on our Arms Open Wide (Build Wider Tables) song; drawing on Christ’s John 13:34 “Love one another as I have loved you … ” text as well as the prominent current Lower Fences, Longer/Wider Tables catch-cry.






Now available:
leadsheet   lyrics
demo backing [G]

mp3 vocal [Bflat]

Thanks for affirming feedback already received!




Arms Open Wide

A new song, with help from Dale, as we travel into 2019, inspired by two pieces of wisdom:

  • Christ’s vital words in John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another
  • Words from a Sojourners New Years Day reflection that really challenge me for 2019 and beyond

… drawing on that profound slogan about building longer tables, not higher fences, walls or borders.

So, while on holidays and having just GarageBand for iPad and mandolin with me, I’ve written Arms Open Wide. The recording is very scratchy but take a listen. Vocal of this eventually.


“Hear what I’m sayin’ and
Hear what I’m prayin’
You are my disciples
when known by love”
Love in the caring
Forgiving, forbearing
Love ever-giving”
… the Love from You.

So come together
Yes, come together
Come, love together
Arms open wide
Break down the borders and
Build wider tables and
Reach out your arms
stretch them open wide

“Hear what I’m sayin and
Hear what I’m prayin
You are my disciples
When known by love
Each time you welcome
a sister, a brother
You welcome the One
whose life is Love”

So come together
Yes, come together
Come, love together
Arms open wide
Break down the borders and
Build wider tables and
Reach out your arms
stretch them open wide

So come together
Yes, come together
Come, love together
Arms open wide
Break down the borders and
Build wider tables and
Reach out your arms
stretch them open wide
Reach out your arms
stretch them open wide

David & Dale MacGregor (C) 2019


I’ve got a song (or three) to sing, O

Hi. Excuse the Gilbert & Sullivan song reference 🙂
It’s a while since I song-posted on my blog. Meanwhile since getting back from North America seven weeks ago, I’ve written three pieces of worship music, posted them on Facebook and YouTube, but until now, not on my blog.  So here goes.   We’ll go in reverse chronological order.

  1. Manger

A short Christmas instrumental which we’ll use Christmas Eve at my church in Brisbane, Australia.  I really struggled to find a not-schmaltzy or overblown piece of Christmas music.  So I wrote my own.

score    mp3

2. Communion

This one arose out of reflecting on the words of institution and thanksgiving during the sacrament, and feeling perhaps it’s time for something quite folky.

score  lyrics  mp3 backing    l

3. Amazing

Dale and I, along with friends Jan & Glenn from Cairns, and often with members of Dale’s USA family enjoyed the most wonderful seven weeks in USA and Canada just a few months ago.  So many highlights. For me, I keep on reflecting on the wonder and amazement of God’s creation – rocky, snowcapped mountains, mountain lakes; desert sands, cliffs; beautiful forests, and yet oceans and streams.   Amazing … perhaps one of the most personal songs I’ve written.  Also one of my few songs of praise.

score  lyrics    mp3 vocal

Enjoy … and by the way, if you wish, “Sing, O …”


HIGHLIGHTS & LOWPOINTS – USACanada Adventure 2018 – final post (#8)

Hi. We got into Brisbane around 6.15 am yesterday (Saturday). Something like 43 hours between getting out of bed in New York City and going to bed back home in Australia.

We’re now enjoying a week’s downtime at the beach before we both go back to work.

We enjoyed the most amazing seven weeks away in so many beautiful and memorable parts of the USA and Canada. This was and will always be the trip of a lifetime. Thanks to all who followed our adventures. As one does, much planning goes into a trip like this – dreaming, saving, organising, consulting, purchasing, changing and so on. Suffice to say we fully expected most of what lay ahead of us . However, amid all of these expectations came many unexpected highlights. Here are a few ... in no particular priority or chronological order unplanned trip highlights

Ice hockey game and early-season snow in Moose Jaw , Saskatchewan, Canada.

Our Grand Canyon plane flight. Never ever been game to go on something like this. So glad I did. I truly surprised the non-risk taking side of me.

  • The desert experiences, Death Valley, Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks. Stunning beauty and fresh revelation of God’s wonder & magnificence.

Lake Louise hotel view. Don’t think I’ll ever forget opening up our hotel room window curtains to see this. Wow. Wow! The Rockies. Another “Wow!”

Hawaii botanical gardens. Diana and Tom were keen that we see these … to the north on the Big Island. Beautiful orchids and much more.

Dale’s free dessert at the Fairmont Lake Louise. Having clumsily mentioned, as we reserved a dinner table there, that Dale’s birthday was over a month earlier, they proceeded to offer us an ice cream sundae for dessert. “Quite large,” was their only prior comment. Too right!

School of Rock musical near Times Square, NYC. Yes – I was keen to see this show, but didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Did those kids rock!?!

Sedona short walk to great views

Trail of Tears exhibit at DC Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. Very moving recount of the Cherokee journey then and since.

• Dale was “taken” by the array of – Winslow American Indian crafts, music and jewellery pat a Winslow store as well as the giftedness of Jesse Kalu – bamboo flute craftsman, poet and native performer

The beach and waterways near Kill Devil Hills, OBX, North Carolina. Sure I love any beach, but our brief time there made me want to come again.

Gettysburg Battlefield bus tour. Hadn’t planned this two hour tour. So glad we did.

Blazin M Ranch night. We visited this “theatre restaurant” with a difference while in Sedona. Great night and excellent value. We were too full for the announced seconds.

Central Park pedicab tour. Apart from a brief foray into the Strawberry Fields/Imagine section 11 years ago, we had never made it deeper into this massive and beautiful NYC asset. A great one hour experience.

  • Rocky Mountaineer. We knew this would be a combination of expensive and wonderful. Little prepared us for just how superb it would prove to be. Worth every one of many, many cents 😀

  • Time with our family and friends. Of course, I knew our trip would feature this highly. Our travels with Diana and Tom andJan and Glenn, as well as Dan, BJ & Dana; but also catching up with Sherry and Wayne as well as Maria, Mark, Max, Bonnie and Jim … all of this so valued and cause for deep thanksgiving.

Now … just a few things I won’t miss or were unexpected lowlights

• Americans so love to serve these little half-and-half UHT thingies for coffee in restaurants (of all types). Urggh! So glad to get onto that Qantas plane in NYC whereupon they served milk from a jug.

• Drivers failing to indicate while changing lanes, zipping in and across freeway traffic

• The Budget rental car being cancelled on us by a seriously unscrupulous employee in downtown Pittsburgh. We didn’t need such unnecessary stress. Good news: took two weeks, but thankfully Budget refunded the $1000 initially non refundable

• Missing out on seeing Hamilton via the lottery … just wasn’t prepared to pay $500 AUD for tickets

• That’s about it!

Thanks for following our travels and reflections, folks.

Time surely for some music blogging. Just need to get into some fresh songwriting.

Fresh. That’s how I’m feeling.



DC & NYC – USACANADA Adventure 2018 – blogpost #7

Hi. I’m typing this almost an hour out of Washington DC, the USA capital. We’re on Amtrak’s NE Regional service to Boston. We took advantage of Amtrak’s Red Cap Service to get our profusion of suitcases etc from the Union Station taxi rank to the Union Station train. Thanks Tyrone. The $20 was well worth it!

We’re getting off in Penn Station, right in Manhattan, New York City; our final night in North America on what has been an amazing trip. Yet we’re both ready to head home. A show or two in NYC and some time in Central Park will cap it all off well. Anyhow, let me backtrack.

Leaving our lovely Kill Devil Hills beachside lodgings at the Outer Banks, we farewell Diana and Tom, who have shared much of the preceding weeks with us. Great company, hospitality and opportunity to catch up … at so many superb locations.

Skirting many historic areas around Chesapeake Bay, we make it finally to our AirBnB unit in inner suburban DC late afternoon, the last hour or so being really tedious, tense and tiring as yours truly as driver negotiates closed off-Ramps, narrow DC streets, confusing GPS instructions and more.

The AirBnB I booked ages ago proves excellent (we’d recommend it) with full kitchen, roomy lounge and separate bedrooms. As we go find some breakfast basics nearby we’re quickly impacted but the socio-economic imbalances around us. One side (our side) of the nearby arterial road has well kept houses and lawns;the other – run down and derelict. Encounters with desperate homeless folk proves an ongoing aspect of our time in the capital. A further observation- as “Anglos” we are clearly a racial minority. Over the next four days we’ll note that the majority seem to be African- American and some hispanic.

After a tiresome Saturday, while Jan and Glenn successfully negotiate DC public tra sporting (our AirBnB hosts leave us four loaded Smartrip cards!!) Dale and I have a really easy day … spending time at a nearby shopping mall. We needed that sort of day.

Monday comes and having purchased two-day Hopon Hopoff Big Bus tickets we explore the buildings, sights, memorials and feel of downtown DC, including several of the brilliant, much-heralded Smithsonian museums.

Having been to Australia’s capital Canberra a few times over the years and aware of its layout and buildings, it makes an interesting exercise in comparison checking out DC. I think Canberra scrubs up well!

Significant moments over Monday and Tuesday’s sightseeing? Certainly,

  • the Smithsonian museums. We’d need at least a week to check out most of them, so I sufficed with the Air and Space, American Indian and American History and Culture.

  • I enjoyed going deeper amid-museums with my fascination with the Wright Brothers aviation legacy and seeing Julia Child’s kitchen.

  • Mindful of Dale’s distant part-Cherokee heritage I was deeply saddened as I reflected amid a poignant Trail of Tears display … and then inspired at the Cherokee Nation’s eventual rebuilding

  • Lincoln Memorial. We saw this by day and by night. Wonderful testimony to a great, although complex President.

  • Our walk from the Washington Monument, past the WW2 Memorial, alongside the long Reflecting Pool up the steps into the Lincoln Memorial was quite lovely … and all of it under sunny DC skies.

  • The night bus tour. Spending brief time at the Korean War memorial was something meaningful,

We get into Penn Station, whereupon the “fun” begins. Wee got tickets (sort of) online for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock at 2 pm. Our train gets in on time at 12.40 pm. We have to get our near-Zelows store amount of luggage up several floors onto the streets of Manhattan, catch a cab (I tried booking one) to our 45th street boutique hotel then hot foot it to the Winter Garden Theatre for the show.

Well … wasn’t that “fun”. Two wonderfully helpful Amtrak Taff take pity on us and our luggage and get us to the taxi rank. We wait there for seemingly forever before we get in. The Manhattan traffic is at a standstill, anyone who’s caught a downtown Manhattan can, especially near Times Square knows that well. Unbeknown to us, various high profile Democrats of the eminence of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have in the past 24 hours received suspicious packages. CNN headquarters in Manhattan does too.

Yet, we make it to our hotel, hotfoot it (well as best one does in an elevator) to room 705 and then at 1.45 fast walk our 60-something legs to the show. School of Rock is fantastic – based on the 2003 Jack Black movie, with a classroom of high-energy and musical instrument-playing kids with a rocky AndrewLloyd Webber score. Great fun!

Dinner at Applebees and being on a theatrical roll, we get standing only seats @ $27 each for the much heralded The Book of Mormon. I find the show a bit of a mixed bag. Pros: its satire on organised religion, great singing and acting, very cheeky (though often below the belt in more ways than one) humour. Cons? Pretty crude (check – extremely crude) in parts … show would have been just as engaging if that aspect had been tempered … but I remember that along with Robert Lopez (think songs in Frozen) the show’s written by the team behind South Park. Say no more. That said, glad to see it, though equally glad we paid no more than $54.

Next morning, mindful that we’re within walking distance of Central Park, we set off and eventually get a really personable Belarusian pedicab driver to take us on a60 minute park tour … all of this under beautiful NYC autumn skies. It was a lovely experience … with some beautiful fall colours on the trees.

Back at the hotel, we rest/nap before the 100 minute shuttle bus crawl to JFK airport, first leg to Los Angeles, before the usual pre-midnight flight home to Brisbane.

So many wonderful memories over the previous seven weeks, along with a few things I will certainly not miss, once back home in Australia. However, you’ll have to read the next and final blog of mine (well, for this incredible adventure) to discover what these are. That’s a fun job for the LAX airport lounge.

Blessings (& wow, there have been so many!)


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