Songs of Influence

"He has put a new song in my mouth." (Psalm 40:3)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

I Believe In You, by Bob Dylan

I love this song for the words. 

They talk of standing up for what you believe in, regardless of however people treat you.

When you become a Christian, your attitudes and heart change direction 180 degrees, like going from swimming downstream to upstream.

You feel like the whole world has now turned you into public enemy No.1. 
You suddenly find out who your real friends are. 

But that's OK, because Jesus already warned us that would happen:

John 15:18-25 (NKJV)
18  "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
19  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
20  Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
21  But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
22  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
23  He who hates Me hates My Father also.
24  If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.
25  But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.'

I do not have to fear because I believe in the One who casts out all fear. 

For the Dylan purists, here's a raw live version:

I also love this Sinead O'Connor cover version:

Lyrics (courtesy

They ask me how I feel
And if my love is real
And how I know I'll make it through
And they, they look at me and frown
They'd like to drive me from this town
They don't want me around
'Cause I believe in you.

They show me to the door
They say don't come back no more
'Cause I don't be like they'd like me to
And I, I walk out on my own
A thousand miles from home
But I don't feel alone
'Cause I believe in you.

I believe in you even through the tears and the laughter
I believe in you even though we be apart
I believe in you even on the morning after
Oh, when the dawn is nearing
Oh, when the night is disappearing
Oh, this feeling is still here in my heart.

Don't let me drift too far
Keep me where you are
Where I will always be renewed
And that which you've given me today
Is worth more than I could pay
And no matter what they say
I believe in you.

I believe in you when winter turn to summer
I believe in you when white turn to black
I believe in you even though I be outnumbered
Oh, though the earth may shake me
Oh, though my friends forsake me
Oh, even that couldn't make me go back.

Don't let me change my heart
Keep me set apart
From all the plans they do pursue
And I, I don't mind the pain
Don't mind the driving rain
I know I will sustain
'Cause I believe in you.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

God Defend New Zealand, by Cindy Ruakere

We all do it, don’t we? Every time we go to watch our nations’ National sporting teams go into battle with anothers’, we stand and sing our respective National Anthems with great gusto.

It fills us with pride. It gives us spectators a lift, and those competitors a purpose for the battle – to defend their country’s honour against the other.

Most National Anthems laud the beauty and spectacle of their respective country, the spirit and pride of the people, and the honour to dwell in its’ borders and be its’ ambassador to the rest of the world.
And there is nothing wrong with having pride in your own country. But did you ever stop and give thanks to God for His bountiful provision, and protection?

That is why I love the New Zealand National Anthem. 

Yes, it speaks of the gift of beauty.
But it also goes a step further to thank the Giver for the gift, and ask for protection.

It is a prayer directed to the Creator of our beautiful country, although seldom treated as such.

The anthem was written as a poem by Thomas Bracken of Dunedin, in the 1870's. It was set to music in 1876, but only officially became New Zealand's National Anthem in 1977. 

Actually, we have 2 official National Anthems. The original one, God Save The Queen, is still recognised, but seldom sung by New Zealanders.

God Defend New Zealand has 5 verses, but normally only the Maori and English first verses are sung.

I love this folky version from Cindy Ruakere.


Lyrics (courtesy Ministry for Culture and Heritage)

E Ihowā Atua,
O ngā iwi mātou rā
Āta whakarangona;
Me aroha noa
Kia hua ko te pai;
Kia tau tō atawhai;
Manaakitia mai

God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific's triple star
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.

Men of every creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our free land.
From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our state,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.

Peace, not war, shall be our boast,
But, should foes assail our coast,
Make us then a mighty host,
God defend our free land.
Lord of battles in Thy might,
Put our enemies to flight,
Let our cause be just and right,
God defend New Zealand.

Let our love for Thee increase,
May Thy blessings never cease,
Give us plenty, give us peace,
God defend our free land.
From dishonour and from shame,
Guard our country's spotless name,
Crown her with immortal fame,
God defend New Zealand.

May our mountains ever be
Freedom's ramparts on the sea,
Make us faithful unto Thee,
God defend our free land.
Guide her in the nations' van,
Preaching love and truth to man,
Working out Thy glorious plan,
God defend New Zealand.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Bridge Over Troubled Waters, by Simon & Garfunkel

This song is especially meaningful for me, for three reasons:

Firstly, the uplifting lyrics. They speak of true friendship and loyalty regardless of the circumstances.

Secondly, the hauntingly beautiful voice of Art Garfunkel that sends shivers down my spine. 

Thirdly, this was my late mothers' favourite song. I remember that when it came on the radio, she would quickly turn it up and sing along at the top of her voice.

A special song, with special lyrics, evoking special memories. Enjoy!

Lyrics, courtesy

When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I'm on your side
When times get rough

And friends just can't be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part

When darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Whakaaria Mai (How Great Thou Art), by Stan Walker and Friends

There is probably no other Christian anthem that stirs the heart like this famous hymn!

Translated and composed by Stuart K. Hine, from the 1886 poem "O Great God", by Carl Boberg, it speaks of the awesome nature of our God - creating a special world for us to enjoy; loving us enough to spare us from His wrath in offering His Son as a sin sacrifice on our behalf; and the promise of eternal fellowship with Him after death.

Here are the lyrics of the original version, but for a special treat I thought I would post a New Zealand Maori version. 

This song is sung at almost every Maori funeral. 
There is something special and heart-warming when the Maori folk come together with just a guitar as accompaniment, and sing with love and passion with their unique, hauntingly beautiful tones.

I found this Maori / English version on Youtube, and it brought tears to me eyes. 
It is a tribute from friends of 'Audrey Phillips', and features (among others) artists Fourtunate, Vince Harder, and 2009 Australian Idol winner Stan Walker front and centre.
Stan is a full-blooded Maori, even though he was born in Australia. These people are affectionately known as Maori Auzzies, or 'Mozzies'.

It is obvious from the clip that not all of them know the words, but you can still worship with your eyes closed if that distracts you! 


Lyrics to this version:

Whakaaria mai  
Tōu rīpeka ki au 
Tiaho mai 
Rā roto i te pō 

Hei kona au 
Titiro atu ai. 
Ora, mate, 
Hei au koe noho ai


Show Your Cross to me
Let it shine there in the darkness
To there, I will be looking
In life, in death
Let me rest in Thee.)

When Christ shall come
With shout of acclamation
And take me home
What joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim
My God, how great Thou art

Then sings my soul
My saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art
Then sings my soul
My saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

You'll Never Walk Alone, by Gerry & The Pacemakers

Here's one of those songs that can give you goosebumps when you hear it.

It's a common song that's sung at football matches in the UK, adopted primarily by the Liverpool Football Club, being from the home of the band.

It's a song of hope. When things are going from bad to worse, there will be something sweet at the end of it.

It reminds me of the security I have in Christ. 
I can go through storm after storm after storm, and still feel secure in the knowledge that He holds my eternity in His hands (Psalm 121).

Lyrics (courtesy 

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high 
And don't be afraid of the dark. 
At the end of a storm there's a golden sky 

And the sweet silver song of a lark. 

Walk on through the wind 
Walk on through the rain 
Though your dreams be tossed and blown. 
Walk on, walk on 
With hope in your hearts 
And you'll never walk alone 
You'll never walk alone. 

Walk on, walk on 
With hope in your hearts 
And you'll never walk alone 
You'll never walk alone. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

It Is Well, by Horatio Spafford

This beautiful hymn touches my heart for a number of reasons:

Firstly, it speaks of the beautiful peace we can have when we know whatever gets thrown our way, we can have assurance that God is working things out for good for us because we love Him (Rom 8:28)

Secondly, it was one of my father's favourite hymns. He loved the old ones, and he sung them with great gusto. This was like his anthem, peace personified in a turbulent world. I remember singing this at his funeral, struggling to get the words out.

Lastly, the story behind the song. 
Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer and property dealer in the 19th century. However, he lost his son Horatio Jr to Scarlet Fever when he was only four years old. Then he lost almost all of his property fortune in the great Chicago fire in 1871. 
In order to get away from Chicago, Spafford decided to move his family to England. However, when the time came to set sail, a business emergency prevented him from sailing, so he sent his family on ahead and promised to set sail a few days later.
Tragically his wife's ship was struck by a British steel ship and sank- most of the passengers drowned, including all four of Spafford's daughters. Spafford took the next available ship to Britain to be with his wife Anna. During the journey, the captain called him to the bridge to inform him that that he believed he was passing over the site of the shipwreck. Spafford then went to his quarters and penned this great hymn.
Horatio and Anna soon returned to Chicago, and were blessed with three more children. One of the sons they also named Horatio, but unfortunately he also fell to the same disease as his brother, at the same age as well.

Spafford knew tragedy. He suffered immeasurable loss. But he also had a great comforter in his God. He knew that all things ultimately work for good because God was in control. Six of his eight beautiful children were at home with The Lord, and he knew that was a better place for them.

Soak in the beautiful words of this amazing hymn, remembering God's wonderful peace and assurance.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Honesty, by Billy Joel

This song by Billy Joel has a whole lot of truth in it.

Anyone can tell you what they want you to hear. And if you're desperate enough for the truth, you are willing to look in even the wrong places to find it, to our peril. 

But the problem is, everybody lies.

We lie to save face. 
We lie to protect others. 
We lie to cover the sordid truth. 
Then we lie to protect our lies. 
Then we forget which lies we've told to whom, and spend our time trying to cover this up with more lies.
Then we die.
Then we face God on Judgement Day.
Then we find that we can't hide anymore for our lies.
Then He tells us that lying lips are an abomination to Him (Prov 12:22).
Then He tells us that all liars will have a part in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8).

And that's the truth.

Lyrics (curtoesy

If you search for tenderness
It isn't hard to find 
You can have the love you need to live 
But if you look for truthfulness You might just as well be blind 
It always seems to be so hard to give

Honesty is such a lonely word 
Everyone is so untrue 
Honesty is hardly ever heard 
at I need from you

I can always find someone 
To say they sympathize 
If I wear my heart out on my sleeve 
But I don't want some pretty face 
To tell me pretty lies 
All I want is someone to believe

Honesty is such a lonely word 
Everyone is so untrue 
Honesty is hardly ever heard 
And mostly what I need from you

I can find a lover 
I can find a friend 
I can have security 
Until the bitter end 
Anyone can comfort me 
With promises again I know, I know
When I'm deep inside of me 
Don't be too concerned 
I won't ask for nothin' while I'm gone 
But when I want sincerity 
Tell me where else can I turn 
Cause you're the one that I depend upon

Honesty is such a lonely word 
Everyone is so untrue 
Honesty is hardly ever heard 
And mostly what I need from you