Appeal to a Dying Race

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Audio excerpt: Excerpt from verse 1

Lyrics & notes

17 Oct 1971
(music adapted from "Recitative and song" from Dido and Aeneas, by Henry Purcell)

sometimes I see people crowding by
in sorrow they die
in sadness they cry
and follow after a lie

when the whole world cries out
in torment and despair
how can I stop the pain?
Lord, hear me and help me to care
a tender touch—a healing touch
as You came to me come to them
You died for them
now gently lead them to life that's new

now He is pleading for you
to open your heart
don't just turn Him away
don't shut Him out
invite Him in to stay
O are you blind?
He loves you so
Do you know what it means to die?
He died for you
and now He wants you to live
with Him

℗ © Love's Music 1979, assigned to Creative Measures (ASCAP)

1979 Notes:

This was written in my second year of college (U of Mich). In Music Lit. we were studying an excerpt from Dido and Aeneas, by Henry Purcell, a "recitative and song," and the melody haunted me everywhere I went.

At the same time, I was also being haunted by an endless procession of faces—the faces of people I knew, the people I saw in my classes, the strangers I saw every day as I walked across campus, the friends I lived with in the dorm. Even in my sleep I couldn't escape the eyes that had lost hope, the lips that had forgotten how to smile.

And it just didn't make any sense to me that they should have such an emptiness in their lives, all the time restlessly searching, when my Master wanted nothing more than to satisfy their deepest longings. So I wrote an appeal to them, and a plea to God to reach them somehow—set to the music that played in my head.

Now, seven years later, the faces have changed, but the haunting is still there. And so is the appeal.

2007 Notes:

These days I'm doing rather less in public and rather more in private. We've thrown our lots in with a small group of worshippers at a nearby Episcopal church, getting involved and trying to make a difference. It's a "total ministry" congregation, where the members use their gifts to do the work that needs doing, without a full-time priest. Everyone commits. It's a wonderful experiment, and so far, it's working remarkably well...

We all have some high ideas when we're young, don't we? As Joni Mitchell says, the dreams sometimes lose some grandeur coming true. But they've gained a few things, too. And they have, after all, come true!