“If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another
It's a long, long road
From which there is noreturn
While we're on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy he's my brother”
- From He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by The Justice Collective
The last time I was so interested in the Christmas Number 1 was probably 1972 when I raced home from the last half day at school to sit beside the radio on a Tuesday lunchtime hoping it might be Crazy Horses and was gutted when The Osmonds younger brother Jimmy gave us Long Haired Lover From Liverpool! This year I had a vested interest. One of my congregation, Richard Blake, has played flugelhorn and a little trumpet alongside Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Holly Johnson et al on Guy Chambers charity single, with all proceeds from single sales going towards the Hillsborough Families legal costs in their fight for justice.
Richard is a bit of a musical genius, studying at the Royal Academy Of Music, playing classical trumpet as well as being a member of The Mountaineering Club. His mate works in Guy Chambers studio and when they needed brass... well Richard James Blake is all the brass you ever need!
Anyway, that’s the one minister, who such a thing would mean most to, just raving. Let me get to the song. I was aware of the Hollies version but this Justice Collective version has had made me look into the song. It seems from Wikipedia that this phrase that always seemed so strange to me has been about for as long at 130 years and that there are various stories of different people carrying their brothers and uttering the phrase. Apparently, it uses paraprosdokian which is a figure of speech where the second half of the statement gives the emphasis to its interpretation.
It is not tricky for me to find spiritual depth. Being number 1 at Christmas gives us another perspective and extra potency to the
song as we see Jesus, God made flesh, coming onto the earth to carry us all. We weren’t heavy as he made us his brothers and sisters. Of course then he invited us to follow him and carry each other. As a benediction I wrote and use alot says:
“Give us the strength to carry each other
And the right to wilt
Give us grace towards holiness
And the right to confess our guilt.”
May we indeed be given such answers to our prayers as we are energized to follow Jesus into 2013.