When Archbishop Desmond Tutu died at Christmas 2021, we lost someone who truly shone the light of Christ into the world. I wrote a song, based on some of the words of Jesus from Matthew’s Gospel which are appropriate for Epiphany, and for remembering Archbishop Tutu, one of those people who really was a light on a hill.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
When the music stops and the world just hangs in the air as time just holds her breath; and I hardly dare let my mind form words lest they break the sense of holiness I feel when the music stops.
When the stylus lifts but the vinyl turns till I walk across and make it stop; there’s a stillness there as the music sits deep inside my heart and holds me there as if the song is hearing me once the music stops.
And I didn’t want the song to end, and I relished every moment, and I wish I could inhabit all those twists and turns and laughs and tears as fully as I did the instant that I first experienced them.
But now I stand enveloped in this very sacred moment as the music stops.
The music stops: the world just hangs in the air; time holds her breath. I do not dare let my mind form words: they’d break this sense of holiness.
The music stops.
I knew these words were a song as soon as I wrote the poem, but the music just wouldn’t come. I sat at the piano. I sat with a mandolin. The song was almost audible, as if just round a corner, but nope, nothing would come. Lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic had given me songwriters’ block generally for the past year or so.
And then, more than a month later, I decided to doodle at the mandolin with these lyrics. I set the video on my phone running so I could later use that to help me write the song. To my surprise, the soundtrack to the above video just “happened”. The song had been there all along, as I suspected.
Yes, I could re-record this in a more polished performance – more even chords, better vocal technique and so on, but it seemed appropriate to simply share the moment the music started.