Lament for the Christchurch Mosque Attacks

I’ve had folk get in touch wanting to know what words or music they can use to respond to the unspeakable violence that occurred in Christchurch on Friday. I confess I am numbed by this act, and do not have anything new at hand to offer. A dear friend text me last night saying she and her gathering were singing my song, ‘How Long O Lord.’

If you haven’t heard it, here it is. It might be what you and your community need right now to express our bewilderment to God – and to call God to act with justice.

Another song that might be of use as a reflective piece called, ‘Hallowed be Thy Name.’ I wrote this with some friends back in 2010, trying to find my way towards lament. It may give voice to some of the feelings for revenge and powerlessness that members of your congregations may be experiencing.

Here is a prayer I wrote a couple of years ago for a community in a very difficult space – it may have something to offer into this space. You are welcome to rework it as needed:

I have tried to write a hundred eloquent prayers,
Giving voice to our pain and to your healing grace.
But today I can find none. I confess I am bereft. But I will not be silent.
Do not forsake us O God.
A dozen beginnings become a dozen dead ends, as my prayers pool at my feet. And all I have to offer you for myself, for my church, and for my world, are tears of confusion and grief.

Do not forsake us O God.

You O God are beauty and wholeness, and you deserve to be loved better than I can muster. You deserve to receive words and lives of cadence and grace, but my heart is heavy, my feet are like lead, and my voice can find no song for a time like this.
Do not forsake us O God.

Yet as discordant and despairing as it may sound,
I will give you ​this voice,
for I have no other,
and even as I pray you are delivering me from the tomb of disempowered silence.
For this ugly groan is a sharing in God’s Spirit, it is being formed on the lips of Christ, and whispered in the ear of the Most High.

We are not forsaken. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Image taken from news site.

Here’s a little song I wrote for the Mark Illustrated Gospel Project last year which may speak to this time. It names the grief of our world, and reality of loss, but holds that alongside the unflinching promises of God to see this world through to redemption.

A song written with my friend Adrian Taylor, a prayer of intercession when we have no words of our own, only ‘sighs and silence.’

Finally, here is a song I wrote last year for some friends in a dark place. It can be sung congregationally, but you are also welcome to use the recording as a reflective piece. A note that the recorded version is a little different to the notated version, it got workshopped and I haven’t been back to rework the recording yet.

Psalm 22 demo

Grace and peace as you shepherd your communities through this time, always in the sure presence of the Great Shepherd.

  • Adrian taylor

    Thanks Malcolm, good to have some words when no words come. Btw you have uploaded ‘Not the End’ twice instead of ‘To Intercede’.

    March 16, 2019
  • Alison Jenkin

    Thanks Malcolm for your songs and prayers.I can understand how new words are hard to come by-it is all too numbingly raw still.

    March 16, 2019
  • Heather McArthur

    Beautiful, our Playcentre community here in Dunedin have had families directly affected we are hurting with them. We plan to hold a vigil sharing our faith and worship showing solidarity. So it would be good to share your material Malcolm.

    March 16, 2019
  • Jill Kayser

    Thank you Malcolm. I’m preaching today and your prayers reassure me that my feelings of disempowerment and confusion are shared by so many and can be named. Love Jill

    March 17, 2019
  • How long O Lord
    till the shooting and the echo of the shooting ends
    and the guns fall silent in exhaustion?
    How long O Lord
    till white lies are exposed
    as black holes in a self-destroying universe?
    How long O Lord
    till ripped hearts heal
    and pump life again?
    How long
    till stone cracks and water flows out?
    How long
    till love takes on flesh,
    till talk finds a neighbour.

    March 19, 2019
  • Psalm 22 lyrics (extracted from lead sheet)

    Verse 1
    My God, my God why have You forsaken me?
    Why are You far away from redeeming me?
    By day I cry but You still don’t seem to hear.
    In the night my rest brings no rescue.

    Verse 2
    I feel their eyes, ev’ry one it mocks and jeers,
    making fools out of me and my faith in you.
    The tyrants taunt and the jackals prowl around.
    And my heart it fails as they’re closing in.

    Verse 3
    For I’ve been Yours since before I first drew breath,
    and Your life how it flowed like a mother’s milk.
    Now dark surrounds and my mouth is dry with fear.
    For You laid me down in the dust of death.

    Yet still you reign,
    still You are praised as the faithful one.
    In ages past saints have held fast,
    they have trusted you.
    And You have not put them to shame,
    is it too much to ask that You would do the same?

    October 23, 2019

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