I Remember

A Song of Lenten Remembrance from The Merry Mystic

This week, I’m sharing a new song for Lent. It’s a remembrance of Jesus.

You can find sheet music for “I Remember” in our Free Stuff area.

I hope you enjoyed the song. Now, read on if you’re interested in why I wrote it.

I wrote this song to use in church last week, because I just couldn’t find a Lenten hymn that spoke to me. And the reason I couldn’t find one is because so many of the Lenten hymns in my hymnal include little bits of atonement theory that I’m just not in the mood for.

There’s “Down at the Cross” —

Down at the cross where my Savior died
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried
There to my heart was the blood applied...

And there’s “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” —

Content to let the world go by, to know no gain or loss
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

And there’s “The Old Rugged Cross” —

For upon that old cross Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me.

And there’s “Lift High the Cross” —

O Christ, once lifted on the glorious tree
Your death has brought us life eternally.

And there’s “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed” —

Was it for crimes that I have done, Christ groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown! and love beyond degree!

And there’s “God Loved the World” —

And justified by Jesus' blood
Your baptism grants the highest good. 

And there’s “O Love, How Vast, How Flowing Free” —

For us was beaten, whipped, and tried,
And taken to be crucified, 
So Love all this for us endured, 
And dying, life for us procured. 

Anybody sensing a pattern here?

Deep in our Christian heritage, going back at least to the Apostle Paul and to the author of the letter to the Hebrews, is this understanding of how Jesus made a difference: that his death accomplished our atonement, somehow paying the price for our sins. I’ve never been a fan of that theory, and last week, I was in no mood to give it yet another airing in church.

Jesus makes a difference for me by his life, by his teaching, by his example, by his continuing presence, and, yes, by his death — by the example of his non-violent acceptance of an unjust and painful death.

And that’s what I tried to put into my song.

Come and See

The Merry Mystic Sings a Wordy Song about the Futility of Words

I wrote a song this week, a song inspired by a passage from the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Come and see …

We Prepare

The Merry Mystic Gets Ready for Christmas

This is a not-quite-secular carol for Advent—a song about the fun of getting ready for Christmas. It’s meant to be sung with plenty of frosting on top.

The sheet music for “We Prepare” is available in our Free Stuff area, in three different forms: one with full piano accompaniment, one with the vocal part only, and one with the vocal refrain only. (That last is how I used it in my church: with me singing the verses and the congregation singing the refrain.)

Me and Joe and What’s-His-Name

A Song from The Merry Mystic

Here’s a song from my second CD. The song tells an old, old story. You probably already know the story, though perhaps you haven’t heard it told from this point of view before…

Now, friends, thanks for watching and listening. If you got something good out of this song and video, please post a comment here to let me know. It doesn’t have to be anything very witty: “Nice song!” or “I get it!” would do just fine. And please share with your friends. Thanks.

The Secret

The Merry Mystic Finally Finds the Perfect Premium

I’ve been wishing for an enticing premium to offer people—something that would persuade more folks to give me their email addresses for The Merry Mystic. How to lose ten pounds overnight? How to attract money? How to avoid an eternity of torment in hell? (That one used to persuade a lot of people to join churches, and even tithe to them, so I considered it seriously.)

But then it hit me: I have something lots of people want. I have the secret of flight. Ready for this?

Dear God, In Your Garden

A Hymn about Gardening, and Other Merry and Mystical Ministries

It’s fall here in Michigan. I’ve harvested a few acorn squash, and we have a few pumpkins coming on, but our garden is my wife’s project, and she plants mostly for the birds and insects. The birds and bees and butterflies—and squirrels, and deer!—have been busy harvesting. It reminds me of how gardening can be a ministry, and a form of prayer. I wrote a hymn about it: “Dear God, In Your Garden.”

Best blessings on your gardening, cooking, woodworking, knitting—and all your other ministries.


P.S. You can find scores for “Dear God, In Your Garden” in our Free Stuff area. And you can read a lot more about it in Chapter 5 of my book, The Inn of God’s Forgiveness.

Justice, the Ranting Cat

The Merry Mystic Sings a New Theme Song

Last week’s episode of The Merry Mystic—my rant—was the most popular ever. Still, it didn’t exactly take the internet by storm. So here, as promised, is my cat video.

Thanks for all the great responses and shares last week. It helps me more than you know. Best blessings!


A Walk in the Woods with The Merry Mystic

The woods were my first church.  The first time I remember being aware of the great Song of God, I was in the woods.  The first time I remember feeling my part in the connectedness of all living things, I was sitting in a tree.  (These days, I hear that Song and feel that connectedness in other places too—sometimes even in a church of stone!)

I wrote this song, “Treesong,” for my last album, As a Deer Longs.  The instruments and male vocals are mine; the female vocals are Kelly Autrey-Webber, my true love; the images are from a walk in the woods of New Hampshire.

(I’m sorry the images aren’t sharper — they’re just stills culled from handheld video, shot as I walked.  But I think they’re beautiful, even as they are.)

I Don’t Believe in You Any More

The Merry Mystic Sings the Blues for an Anonymous Friend

I wrote this song for a man I met back in my seminary days.  He told me he was  Vietnam veteran.  I told him I was a seminary student.  He told me he didn’t believe in God—and he told me why.  I wrote this song to honor his story.

I think about him often, and when I think about him, all I have are questions.  I never saw him again; what became of him?  I don’t know that I was any help to him in our conversation; what might I have done differently?  Why is there destructive suffering in this world—not the kind that strengthens people, like a refining fire, but the kind that grinds people down beyond their ability to resist?  How can we help build a more peaceful world, a world where military men and women are not asked to do things that make them feel that “all the lights are dimmer since the war?”  And what better theology could we teach our children—what understanding of God that won’t buckle under the heavy burdens life may require them to carry?

As always, I value your thoughts on these matters.