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Losing Your Song

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Losing Your Song
By: Captain Stephen Court

I just read in the National Post about a man who had recovered from a stroke (http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?id=2383849A-4488-41E0-9D59-EEE8AFEFA833), and whose reading, speech, memory, and motor functions had all returned to normal. On the occasion of their anniversary, his wife arranged for a violinist to play 'their' song.

She loved it. But he thought it sounded horrible. Writes Brad Evenson, "The stroke had wiped out his capacity to comprehend the patterns of tone and tempo, pitch and rhythm we call music." While he could hear sounds and perceive meaning from them clearly, he had lost his song. He was 'amusical'.

He's not the first. The people of Israel lost their song. They found themselves exiled to a foreign land, slaves.

Watch this (Psalm 137): 1 Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem. 2 We put away our lyres, hanging them on the branches of the willow trees. 3 For there our captors demanded a song of us. Our tormentors requested a joyful hymn: "Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!" 4 But how can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill upon the harp. 6 May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you, if I don't make Jerusalem my highest joy.

They literally hung up their harps. They couldn't sing. Their tongues stuck to the roofs of their mouths. Their fingers lost the skill required to play. And their hearts weren't in it.

Has that ever happened to you? You've found yourself exiled from the presence of God by sin of some kind, and you lack the joy to sing? Herbert Booth was an early Salvation Army composer, writing more than 187 songs, including such classics as 'Grace there is my every debt to pay', 'Victory for me!', 'Let me love Thee', and 'Promoted to Glory'. He had a prolific songsmith pen and a singing heart. He was one of a list of significant SA composers, about whom Ian Bradley notes: 'late Victorian Britain did produce a number of gospel songwriters, virtually all of whom were Salvation Army officers' (http://archive.salvationarmy.org.uk/music/VictHymn.html). Booth was in the forefront. So popular was he that a collection of songs written by him and his wife was published as Songs of Peace and War at the time of their marriage (http://www.salvationarmy.org/heritage.nsf/0/F7F48B7582AE365E8025694C004A7B17?openDocument).

Now, I've read that Booth was, "given to periods of intense activity, followed by exhaustion and depression." It was during one of these bouts of depressions that Booth decided to leave the Army.

Often when we're worn out from battles, when we're just off some hard-fought victories, the devil is fiercest in his attacks. Is it possible that Booth succumbed to such an assault? I've found no record (see, for example, this non-SA site: (http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/b/o/booth_hh.htm) that after he left the Army he wrote or published any songs. He left at age forty and died 24 years later. In the first 40 years he pumped out 187 songs, and in the last 24, the height of his mental and spiritual capacity, he wrote none. Hmm.

The intriguing thing to me is an arrangement he made with his brother Bramwell upon his departure to keep the copyright to his multimedia epic, Soldiers Of The Cross.

He decided to go, but wanted to take 'Soldiers of the Cross' with him. Negotiations with Bramwell were drawn out, but in the end, it was agreed that payment would be the transfer to the Salvation Army of the copyright to all the songs he had written during his early years with the Salvation Army. (http://www.abc.net.au/limelight/docs/bios/3_1_1.htm)

Today, of course, the copyright to all of an officer's songs (and any other creations) automatically belongs to The Salvation Army. I cannot confirm whether that exchange is the precedent for this situation. However, it is shocking that Herbert Booth, in his best Esau imitation, sold his songs! During a vulnerable time of depression, he willingly gave his birthright away. No wonder he could sing no more.

The solution is, as always, restoration. We may not be Herbert Booths, but we may have sold our birthright, wasted our song, and now find ourselves spiritually exiled. But Gospel restoration is still possible:

(Psalm 126): 1 When the LORD restored his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! 2 We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, "What amazing things the LORD has done for them." 3 Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!

You can get your song back. You can get your joy back. The Lord remains the only creative source, the only font of real joy. Run back to Him and hide there. The Lord can do amazing things for you!

Journal of Aggressive Christianity, Issue 28, December 2003 - January 2004

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