“Beautiful girl is a beautiful thing
A beautiful song is something you can sing
If you're feeling low the girl can hold your hand
But a beautiful song can understand”
- from God Walks On the Water by Romantica
I knew that day when I left Lindsay’s house that it would be the last time I would see her. I found the whole thing deeply painful. Lindsay was 23, we had worked together on a project in South Africa, Alain her husband is one of my dearest friends. She was suffering in a way I was not. Alain was suffering in a way I was not. But my suffering was watching my friends go through the most awful suffering of all: cancer ripping them apart by a premature death through an awful disease.
As I got into my car I wondered how to deal with my feelings. I immediately reached for my iPod and scrambled to put a playlist together that would help me untangle my deep emotions on the journey home.
Tolstoy said art is one of the means of intercourse between man and man. I would go further and say that it’s a means of prayer between humans and God. On that drive home I used songs to wrestle with God and my own soul about what was going on in my life. Songs are a potent resource for dealing with pain. Someone said that “The blues is what you get when life ain’t right.”
I believe that one of the conduits for God’s comfort is lament. The Bible is full of it - angry, frustrated, painful. Songs of lament do something deep in our souls. They can drill to the nerve centre of our pain, somehow empathise, soothe and mysteriously be companions as we journey through dark days.
Since the days of David’s Psalms and Jeremiah’s Laments human beings have used the song to understand. Included in the Psalms are a collection of questioning prayers, laments or blues when the believe can not only show confusion and frustration with how the world is but actually rage at God and ask interrogate him on what he might think he is doing in the world.
Looking to a song for consolation has been a habit of humanity since Saul brought a young David to his Palace to play the harp and soothe his soul. That afternoon on a tearful, melancholy trip home praying for Lindsay and Alain I thumbed up Minneapolis band Romantica’s God Walks On The Water. Songwriter Ben Kyle grew up in Belfast before moving Stateside and his little theological twists in his tales of life and death betray his dad’s occupation as a Pastor. God Walks On The Water is a stunningly beautiful song with a sweet mournful fiddle that catches you just guessing on this side of knowing.
It’s a song where there are curses and blessings on the journey of life that causes the kind of deep heartbreak that Lindsay’s husband, parents, brother, sisters and friends were suffering so acutely as they headed towards a reunion of the other side of death’s earthly sting. The line that nails catharsis on the head is,
“God walks on the water
I walk through the rain
One day we're gonna walk together
When he comes back again”
Indeed it was a song that understood!
Ben Kyle plays Fitzroy (BT9 6LQ) on Friday August 28th at 8pm... £10 on door!