A song of lament

EMU Music
£0.99 or watch on YouTube

It was EMU’s Philip Percival who helped me see that Christian music should not be understood just as ‘worship’ but as ‘edification’. This new single Always Good does just that, based around the lament of Psalm 13.

Laments are not common in church music, partly because they are hard to write for congregational use. Finding a voice for sorrow, while at the same time expressing faith in His purposes, means avoiding melodies that are overly mournful. EMU have succeeded in this song, having a rhythm and major key that keeps the song moving. The words for the most part reflect Psalm 13, and reach the excellent last line of the chorus – ‘You are always good to me’. The bridge section hints that there is a New Testament perspective to be added to sorrow, but the song does not veer into triumphalism. And that is why it should be added to the church’s songbook.

It is Ecclesiastes that sounds the note of frustration that is still part of our lives today. Congregation members should not come to church to escape their sorrows but to be enabled to face them with faith. Well-chosen songs like ‘He will hold me fast’ and ‘Always good’ will keep a congregation honest and faithful.

I have two suggestions. In Hilburn’s biography of Paul Simon, Simon is seen obsessively struggling to find the right lyric, something I wish I’d done more! So I’m not sure about about ‘weeping’ in verse 3. Perhaps ‘watching’? Finally I would suggest it works better for the congregation in a higher key, an option hopefully supplied on the website.

We should be very thankful for EMU’s seriousness in song writing for the church. Buy this and sing it! Your church will be grateful, and you will be singing what Scripture says.

Steve James

Steve James a song and hymn writer and was rector of Holy Trinity Platt Church.