A "New Hymn" And Looking Forward

One of my my all time favorite singer/songwriters is James Taylor.  It was my late sister Cheryl who had actually laid the foundation for my appreciation of James's music when I was much younger.  In a time and a community where you would be scorned and teased for listening to anything other than “black” music, my sister turned my young mind onto a wonderful array of musical styles and genres! Amongst them being the music of the great James Taylor!  She expanded my mind and taught me not to be afraid of being different.  She nurtured the musical artist inside of me and she was one of my biggest fans and supporters when I started performing shows around Chicago.

Cheryl had just turned 49 when she was admitted into the hospital after a sudden collapse.  After 3 or more weeks of extensive testing they discovered that she had a rare form of blood cancer, and that it had already progressed to stage four.  She was advised to undergo major surgery to remove the tumor. Though she came through the surgery well and it appeared as though she was recovering, the cancer took an unexpected and aggressive turn, and within four more weeks, the disease took her life.

During her time at the hospital, I spent hours with her in her room and we listened to James Taylor CD’s that I would bring to her.  (I was now introducing her to his latest music!) His one album in particular, “James Taylor – LIVE” is one we listened to a lot--and the song, “New Hymn” is one that ruminates through my memories of us just hanging out in her hospital room.

As I am looking towards my next recording project, it's songs like this that will charge my own songwriting and choices.  But please enjoy the incredible poetry of "New Hymn" - whose lyrics were actually written by celebrated author Reynolds Price who collaborated with James Taylor on this song.  And then go take a listen and a moment to reflect…

New Hymn
   ------James Taylor & Reynolds Price

"Source of all we hope or dread
Sheepdog, jackal, rattler, swan
We hunt your face and long to trust
That your hid mouth will say again
Let there be light
A clear new day

But when we thirst in this dry night
We drink from hot wells poisoned with the blood of children
And when we strain to hear a steady homing beam
Our ears are balked by stifled moans
And howls of desolation from the throats of sisters, brothers, wild men
Clawing at the gates for bread

Even our own feeble hands
Ache to seize the crown you wear
And work our private havoc through
The known and unknown lands of space

Absolute in flame beyond us
Seed and source of Dark and Day
Maker whom we beg to be
Our mother father comrade mate

'Til our few atoms blow to dust
Or form again in wiser lives
Or find your face and hear our name
In your calm voice the end of night
If dark may end
Wellspring goal of Dark and Day

Be here
Be now" 

Michele ThomasComment