A few months ago I had the pleasure of creating the album artwork for Ben Keyes’ (rhymes with “skies”) first solo album. Ben is one of the members of Ordinary Time, a folk acoustic trio from Vancouver, Canada, and is a member of TCC Wayland, where I work. The cover (in my completely unbiased opinion) reflects the bluegrass/gospel roots of Ben’s music. Check it out!
I love how Ben’s lyrics weave deep theological truths into language clearly inspired by fatherhood. In his own words:
While it is for grown-ups, it never could have been conceived without the insights and interruptions of my children. Observing them and their responses to what is beautiful and what is nasty in the world has been a source of new vision for me as a father and a songwriter.
And he does just that. Take for example, track #3 – “Like a Child”
I am like a child still Getting into everything Hate to hear that something bad is for my good. I will throw my toys around Throw tantrums when they can’t be found Can’t be trusted but I might be loved.
It’s this kind of gospel singing where Ben shines. I hope the metaphor is obvious. As his kids might throw tantrums and get into things they aren’t supposed to, so do we, as so-called mature adults, get into things we shouldn’t, and throw tantrums at God when things don’t go our way. Luckily, we have grace, and so do Ben’s kids:
The tether you attach to me; The anchor of your charity. If drifting’s what it means to be free, I’ve had enough.
And there you have grace, learned from three kids and a parents heart. It reminds me of Matthew 7:11: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Here’s another one – the title track about raising children with an eternity perspective:
If it wasn’t for you, we might sleep through the night But there’d be no joy in the morning No joy in the morning light. When you couldn’t hold your head up When you couldn’t look around Had a dream of you at the table Swinging feet could touch the ground Teaching you to wait ‘til daybreak Is a hard old load to bare But we’re travelling towards the morning And you and I are siblings there.
Have a listen:
In the morning we’ll laugh To the cleanest joke That has ever, ever been told. Somehow we’ve always known it, But it will never never get old. In the morning no one will laugh and be a fraud Everyone will get it, at no one’s expense but God’s
Did you catch that? It’s theology with child-like wonder, packed into a down-to-earth sound complete with toy piano. “At no one’s expense but God’s” is a unique allusion to the crucifixion. It cost God a LOT to bring us into eternal life. All we have to do is receive. But it’s not just kids songs. Track six is a heartbreaking look at despair from sickness, and even death. Take a look at verse two and the chorus:
Went to the doctor and the doctor he sent me
To all the eager specialists to feast their minds on me
At church they dapped my head with oil and laid their hands on me
I cried a thousand prayers at night for the death of this disease
If it comes, then it comes in God’s sweet time
In God’s sweet time
In God’s sweet time
Couldn’t see the reason
Even less the rhyme
Locked inside this clock
and the gears they won’t stop grinding
What is this bitterness in God’s sweet time?
But in the words of LeVar Burton, ” you don’t have to take my word for it!” Go check out the rest of the tracks and lyrics yourself, and consider buying the album and supporting this great independent songwriter!