The Songs – bible references and more

Peter – the Rock is a follow-up to The Jesus Story. Janet, our Musical Director, said to me You’ll have to write something about Pentecost (the coming of the Holy Spirit). I thought that the life of Peter would fit the bill. I already had two songs from The Jesus Story: Follow, Follow and Peter’s Denial. Other songs written a while back, like The Spirit of God and Kingdom Road fitted in as they were. For some new songs, like What sort of Man? Confession of Faith and Peter’s Song, I used existing tunes. Then, a number needed to be written specially for the musical. These include How Many times? There’s no other Name and Rescue from Prison.

Follow, Follow – based on Matthew 4:18-20.  This song, which concluded The Jesus Story, was originally written for young people during my time as Youth Adviser for the Church Mission Society in the 1970s, and continue to be an inspiration for Christians today.

What sort of Man? based on various passages in the Gospels.  This song attempts to explain why Peter and the other Disciples were so impressed by the personality of Jesus.

The Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-law based on Mark 1:30-31.  This story of Peter’s mother-in-law being healed by Jesus and getting up to feed them is told in all three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Confession of Faith based on Matthew 16:13-19.  New words for a tune originally written for a song expressing my faith during a testing time in my ministry.

Jesus Shines! based on Luke 9:28-36.  The words in Psalm 50 verse 2: God shines forth! jumped out at me and inspired this song about the Transfiguration of Jesus, when the glory of God enveloped Jesus and shone forth!

How many times? based on Matthew 18:21-22.  The humour of Christ is seen in many passages of the Gospels, however in this song I have created the humour!  I hope you will also see the serious side of the message Jesus gives here.

Foot washing at The Last Supper: based on Luke 22:24-27 and John 13:1-17.  Peter wasn’t ready to accept the Servanthood of Christ.  Followers of Jesus need to understand and accept that Christ the Saviour both serves us and encourages us to serve others.

Peter’s Denial: based on Matthew 26:69-75 and Luke 22:61-62. This account appears in all four Gospels and shows that Peter would never gloss over this humiliating episode in his life.

Restoration: based on John 21:15-19 (NRSV).  It is essential that we know that Peter found a new life as he was forgiven by the risen Christ, and this is why this song is included in the musical.

Peter’s Song: based on Luke 22:62, John 20:1-2 and John 21:1-19.  This song expresses the feelings of Peter after he had been forgiven by Jesus.  It shows both the depression that failure can bring and the elation of being healed and forgiven.

Sing to the Lord: based on Psalm 100 (GNB).  The psalms were written centuries before the birth of Jesus and still inspire our worship today.

And God said: based on Genesis 1:1-3, Ezekiel 37:1-14, Luke 1:26-38 and Acts 2:1-11.  This song, which includes a verse about the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost shows us that God is not passive but may intervene for the good of his people.

The Spirit of God: based on Acts 2:1-3, Luke 12:11-12, John 14:25 and John 15:26, and Romans 8:26-27.  This song shows us the range of the Holy Spirit’s ministry amongst us today.

There’s no other name: based on Acts 3:1-16 and Acts 4:1-12.  Only after I had finished writing this song did I realise that the chorus is indebted to the song There’ll always be an England so many thanks to the author!

Cornelius: based on Acts 10:1-48. Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, thinks this incident is so important that he repeats it in chapter 11.  It was a watershed moment for Peter when God made it quite clear that the Gospel of Christ was for all people.

Rescue from Prison: based on Acts 12:1-19.  I find the picture of Peter left outside the door quite amusing and hence the emphasis in the song: I was knock, knock knocking.

A time to build: based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and Ephesians 2:11-18.  This song was originally written for a Church Mission Society project in the 1970s called A Time to Build.  It aimed to support youth centres in Sudan and Northern Ireland.  Both countries were undergoing civil disturbance at the time.  Today things are much better in Northern Ireland, though sadly South Sudan is still suffering.

Come to the Lord: based on 1 Peter 2:4-5 and verse 9 (GNB).  This song was first written for a song competition organised by the publishers of The British Version of the Good News Bible completed in 1976.  It didn’t win but the song remains one of my favourites.

Faith Tested: based on 1 Peter 1:6-7. A song for the persecuted church which also brings challenge and comfort to us in our more stable environment.

Kingdom Road: based on various New Testament passages.  The song was originally written as the theme song for a Church Mission Society Conference in Newcastle called A1M.  After the conference the A1M chorus became redundant so the words were changed to kingdom Road.  I hope you find this an uplifting and challenging song for us all.

Singing for Jesus: based on various New Testament passages.  This song which is a joyful celebration of our faith in Christ was originally written for young people in Eastwood Parish Church where I was a curate in the 1970s.

(GNB is the translation of the bible called The Good News Bible)

(NRSV is the translation of the bible called The New Revised Standard Version)

The following was written for children:

Peter:

My name is Peter. I am a friend of Jesus. It was very exciting to go with him as he went around Galilee teaching and healing and helping people.

As time went on, I realised that Jesus was special, different from anyone I had ever met. One day he asked us if we knew who he was. God put a thought in my head and I said ‘You are the son of the Living God’. Jesus was delighted that he had been known for who he was. He told me ‘You are Peter the rock, and on this rock I will build my church.’

When we reached Jerusalem, we had an evening meal together. Jesus was sad because he knew someone would hand him over to the people who hated him. He said that all of his friends would leave him. This made me angry. ‘I won’t leave you’ I said. Jesus replied ‘Before the cock crows, you will say three times that you don’t know me.’

Later that night, the rulers arrested Jesus. I ran away but came back in the dark near to where they took Jesus. A woman saw me and said ‘You are a friend of Jesus’. She said this three times and three times I said I didn’t know him. I was afraid that the rulers might hurt me if they found out the truth.

Suddenly, I saw Jesus. He was looking straight at me with such pain and sorrow in his eyes. I ran off and started to cry. I cried and cried because I had let my best friend down so badly.

As you know they put Jesus on a cross to die. It was horrible. I thought that was the end. I thought I had lost my best friend and I thought I would never ever feel good about myself again.

But I was wrong. Jesus died on a Friday, Good Friday as it is now called because so much good came out of it. We didn’t know that then and on Sunday morning my friend John and I were still feeling rotten. Suddenly Mary, another of Jesus’ friends arrived saying that they body of Jesus was gone from his tomb. John and I set off straight away. John runs faster than me. I was always a bit of a slow runner. He got to the tomb first but stopped outside. I caught him up and went straight in. No body, only the grave clothes. What a shock!

Later that same day, we were all together. Suddenly Jesus appeared as if from nowhere. It wasn’t a ghost. He showed us his hands which had been nailed to the cross. Our friend was really alive again!

That was great, but I still felt bad about letting my friend down. Would Jesus forgive me? Yes he did. More than that, he wanted me to be a leader, helping the church to spread the good news. The promise he made to me was right.

So now, I go everywhere telling people about Jesus – how, because of his death on the cross, evil had been defeated and the bad things in our lives taken away. I tell people that Jesus is alive and however hard our life may be he is always with us, now and forever.