Today’s post is written by Geoff Twigg, Adjunct Professor at North Park University in Chicago. Geoff is a pastor, singer/songwriter, worship leader and ministry consultant, and serves the ECC as a member of the denomination’s Commission on Worship.
I received a song request this week that caught me by surprise. On reflection, I viewed it with very mixed feelings. As a songwriter it is always nice to know that people remember and appreciate your songs; I went through a particularly rich vein of writing while leading the worship ministry in the Pennsylvania church where we spent fourteen very happy years from the mid-nineties onwards. Frequently people will remember a worship song that expressed their sentiments, or special music that was written for a friend’s wedding that now seems perfect for their daughter’s ceremony.
However, this particular request I received with mixed emotions. I wrote the song for a little boy named Kyle who had been diagnosed with cancer even before he was born. Nobody expected him to survive very long, but as he got older and still fought the disease, he became beloved to everybody in the congregation.
After a few months it was decided that he would be dedicated and the ceremony was planned for a Sunday morning service. Sadly Kyle passed earlier during the week that the service was held and the song that I had written for his joyful dedication was instead sung in his memory.
The request that I got this week that led to such mixed feelings was for those lyrics to be sent to another set of grieving parents. It’s always terribly sad when a child passes away and yet it’s part of my calling as a songwriter is to express the inexpressible; to create the words that need to be said and give that vocabulary to the people who need it most.
Sometimes such a task can be seen to bring a blessing. You see, years before Kyle died, we ourselves had a child who passed away of sudden infant death syndrome and – until that time – I had never been able to express my grief at his passing. In writing the song for Kyle I was able not only to express my own grief but also to empathize with what those parents were suffering.
As you read these words, perhaps you can join me in prayer for the parents who mourn this week for their son Colin.
It’s a lifetime of pain in a moment,
A burden adding years to your soul.
It’s the sacrifice of all he had to live for,
A fascinating story left untold.
It’s the end of all we struggled for in hopeful prayer
As we sensed the awful imminence of night;
And though we are standing, staring at the sunset,
He will watch the sky of Heaven as it fills with glorious light…
There’s a lifetime of memories to treasure
And the life remembered far outweighs the pain.
It’s the privilege of loving someone beautiful
And the promise that we all will meet again.
There’s the ever-present echoing of laughter
And the glimpse of shadows running through the trees,
But the joy for him continues ever after
In a life of untold happiness, eternal love and peace.
“And a sword will pierce your own heart,” Mary was told
As she dedicated Jesus to the Lord.
Through the years she watched God’s mysterious purpose unfold
And the offering of love outpoured…
It was a lifetime of pain in a moment.
Drops of blood in an ocean of tears;
And the sacrifice of all he had to live for
Brought a moment of truth for all the years.
In that crisis of pain Christ bought eternity
For us all, for the weight of all wrong;
And the darkened silence looming over Calvary
Was the hush before the glorious song…
“Welcome home, my beloved! You are here at last!
All the waiting is over, all the suffering is past!
Welcome home, my beloved! You’re a child of the King!
Come and join the congregation! Hear the angels sing,