of my songs have ever been
outside the small circle of my church and friends, which seemed to me
to be something of a shame (you might disagree). In any case, I
figured that I really ought to make an effort to share them more
widely, and this page is the result.
you can listen to a recording and in some you can download a copy of
the words and/or sheet music There are even a couple of videos
groovy is that?!
expect an award winning performance - I have neither the voice nor the
recording technology - however, if you like what you hear, please feel
free to share it, subject to the very modest restrictions described at
the foot of this page. If you reckon you could make a better job of
recording any of them, please go ahead - I'd be delighted to hear the
all, enjoy them, and please listen to the message. That is what these
songs are all about.
To That - My great grandfather, Aaron Barnes,
was a local preacher in the Methodist Church
for over 60 years. He died when I was about 7, so I never heard him
preach, but I vividly remember how he used to sit in church,
proclaiming "Amen" frequently and enthusiastically throughout the
service. At the time, I (along with the rest of the Sunday School)
thought he was absolutely "barking" (and, secretly, I think most of us
were just a little scared of him), and it was several years before I
came to realise that he knew exactly what he was about ... and he
probably knew his bible better than most of the preachers. This song is
the story of Great-Grandad Aaron, and contemplates the changing pattern
of worship over the years.
Rag - This
instrumental piece is pretty much "what it says on the tin", a
collection of bits and pieces that never quite became a song. So
instead, I put them together into a sort of ragtime piece. Listen out
for a passing classical reference to Greig (well, almost).
And Mortar - On Boxing Day 2008, Hollington Methodist
Church was gutted by fire. This was the church that I grew up with,
where generations of my family worshipped. It
is true to say that the church is the people, and the building is only
bricks and mortar, but neverthless buildings such as this hold precious
memories for many people. This song was inspired as I stood inside the
blackened shell of the chapel just days after the fire. The air was
still heavy with the stench of smoke, but for me, the overpowering
sensation was that of the prayers of generations still working in this
place. The chapel has since closed, but its legacy lives on.
|(The) Chase - This is what
comes of too much involvement in panto! It started off
as a simple piano piece
to accompany a camel chase in a Christmas musical
(what else?). Subsequently, I clearly had too much
time on my hands, and it seemed like a good idea to
add a few sound effects. Apart from helicopters, dogs,
telephones and miscellaneous other noises, listen out
for contributions from J.F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis and
Martin Luther King. Approximately two minutes of utter
Moments - This song tries to paint a picture of the final
moments of the life of Christ, as he hangs on the cross at Calvary. The
words offer no new insights nor any surprises, but I hope that the mood
of the piece will help listeners to enter into this extra-ordinary
event, which can be easily taken for granted as a result of
|(The) Final Word -
During the Covid 19 lockdown, we have been meeting weekly on Zoom for a
time of fellowship, with a varied programme of worship and study. I
try, each week, to find a suitable sung blessing (or something similar)
to close the meeting and it occured to me that I really ought to write
something myself. The final section of this very simple song of
blessing expresses the hope that, during this period of enforced
quietness which has seen a remarkable reduction in pollution around the
globe, we might think about how we treat this fragile planet and,
importantly, that we might take the opportunity to listen to God's
To Burst - One of my earliest attempts at song writing. I
wouldn't describe it as accomplished, but I guess that it does portray
something of the excitement of new-found faith.
|Food For Thought (or the life and reminiscences of a recently departed and much loved Brussel Sprout)
- Not a song, but a poem. There is a serious message in here somewhere,
but I sometimes wonder what planet I was on when I wrote it.|
- "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are
perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God" (1
Corinthians 1, v18).
This song came to me so easily, that I begun to wonder whether somebody
else has already written it, and I had simply recalled it from
somewhere in my deep sub-concious. But no ... I don't think so.
Hymn - These words were written by Geoffrey Etherington, a
former member of our church, and the man who carved the lovely shepherd
figure that can usually be found in the sanctuary area of the chapel.
Discovered by his widow, some years after his death, I was asked if I
could set the words to music. This turned out to be quite a challenge,
since the meter changes from verse to verse. However, I did my best,
and I hope that Geoffrey would approve.
Am Judas - This song attempts to put into words what I
think might have been going through the mind of Judas just before he
hung himself. It isn't a happy song - it is a song of despair and
self-loathing and yet, at its heart, there shines a tiny ray of hope,
which should serve as an encouragement to any of us who have ever been
guilty of betrayal.
Got Christ (What Have You Got To Shout About?) - A great
song for kids (or for adults who like to act like kids) based on Paul's
assertion that he will boast in nothing but Christ crucified.
All Things, Love -
Written for my parents on the occasion
of their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 2003, this speaks about love and
commitment - the sort that keeps two people together for 50 years (over
60 by the time that Dad died in 2015), or the boundless love of Christ
and our response to it.
Matters! - In simple terms, this is my Testimony in
music. Brought up in the church from a very young age, and benefitting
from the example of my family who have served the Church faithfully for
generations, it wasn't until I did the Alpha Course in my early forties
that the penny suddenly dropped. All these stories that I had been
brought up with - they were actually true! The Bible isn't just a great
book of stories - it is a history book too - this stuff actually
happened! And consequently - "It Matters!"
Take A Little More Than That (To
Really Worry Me) - I always wanted to write a blues
song, but the trouble is, to write authentic blues, you have to be
really miserable, and I can never stay miserable for long enough. While
trying to write a blues song, this one sort of fell out. I call it the
"Unblues" and, while it doesn't have a specific message, I guess it
describes my general attitude to life.
Wanna See (The Light Of Jesus Shining
Down On Me) - A "Rock 'n Roll Prayer" for the gift of the
Holy Spirit - and no less sincere for the fact that it rocks. I am
certain that God hears all prayers, but I just like to think that, just
maybe, he enjoys tapping his feet at the same time.
Want To Follow Jesus -
Partly inspired by a story entitled "A Tandem Ride With God." It could
easily be sub-titled "be careful what you ask for." You really
shouldn't sing the chorus
a) really mean it, or
b) are trying to convince yourself that you really mean it.
For The Best - A simple little ditty that contains a
powerful truth. Sadly, many people are conditioned to look for the
worst in other people. But the fact is, if you can recondition yourself
to look only for the best, you'll generally find it. And that not only
makes you feel better about them, but better about yourself too! Trust
me - I've tried both approaches!
Jesus, Think On Me - Sadly, I can't take the credit for
these words, which were written in the 5th Century by Synesius of
Cyrene. I discovered them during a bible study session, but was
horrified to discover the dreadful tune to which they were set in Hymns
& Psalms. I just had to write a tune that I thought would do
Synesius some sort of justice. The result is probably the most
beautiful tune that I have ever penned. I hope that you agree, and if
you do, please give Synesius all the credit. After all, he provided the
Strangers Here - Inspired by a sign outside the door of an
Irish pub. At first glance, rather intimidating, the sign read, in big
letters, "NO STRANGERS HERE", but then, slightly smaller, "Just Friends
Who Never Met." It struck me that this should describe the sort of
welcome that people should be entitled to expect when they come into
our churches. And if they don't get it, it's hardly surprising that
you'll find them all down at the pub instead!
Let Us From This Table Rise - A well known hymn, often
used after the sharing of bread and wine in a Service of Holy
Communion. I have never particularly liked the set tune, and figured I
could do better. Whether I succeeded is not for me to judge.
More Step - This hymn is very popular among
young children, and with preachers who think they know what young
people like. Sadly, I have always detested the tune (sorry Sydney,
nothing personal … some of the other stuff you wrote is absolutely
cracking), so I figured I ought to do something about it. As
it happens, Sydney Carter died in the same year that I wrote this tune,
so I hope my offering will be considered to be a tribute to the man and
the great contribution that he made to church music, rather than a
reflection on the one tune that I didn’t like.
To The King - A rare item - I don't write many hymns, and
this one started with the tune. I was just fiddling about at the piano
one day, a nice chord sequence came out, so I wrote it down, only to
find out subsequently that there was not a hymn in the book that would
fit it. So I had little option but to write some words.
After a whistle-stop tour of Jesus's birth, teaching and crucifixion,
the hymn is ultimately about commitment (note how the last verse
changes from the third person to the first person), and is especially
suitable for use at a Covenant Service.
Prayer - A gentle tune which reaches a slight crescendo in
the third verse before fading away. From the time that I wrote this I always felt that it should sit behind a spoken
passage (rather than words being sung) but I have never yet found the
right words. I'm open to suggestions.
Ransom - A musical interpretation of the passion and
resurrection of Christ. ||
Peg - This is the blues song that I started to write when
I was feeling really miserable (see "It'll Take A Little More That
That"). It took me about two years to finish it, by which time, it had
turned from a blues song into something more like a commentary on the
blues. Still, it's the closest I've gotten to the blues yet.
Promised Land - I’m always heartened to read
about some of the great bible heroes who suffered from doubts and
fears, just the way that most of us do. Think of Jonah, who did his
very best to avoid what God wanted him to do. Think of Moses who, in
not so many words said to God “What me? You must be joking.” This song
is inspired by just such people, and is for anyone who ever felt
In Me - This is not the story of how I met Jesus … though
it could have been. In the main, it’s a strong message packaged with a
heavy sprinkling of humour and a few oblique bible references. Listen
out for the “Wombles” influence in the tune.
Are You? - This song is a story, which takes us back to
the time of Jesus to see events unfold through the eyes of an
eyewitness. He’s a fictional character, but who knows?
Our story begins in the synagogue at Nazareth where Jesus is teaching.
Our man is one of those listening who reject Jesus and his teaching.
After all, they know him as just the local carpenter’s son … what makes
However, something that Jesus said or did must have struck a chord, and
he just can’t get Jesus out of his head. Although still sceptical, he
follows Jesus’s teaching with some interest.
Sadly, it is only in the last verse when, as we find ourselves at the
foot of the cross, the penny drops. As he suddenly recognises Jesus for
who he really is, he realises the awful truth that he is among the crowd that has just
crucified … the Son of God!
Will You Serve? - A rowdy piece of rock ‘n roll,
ideal for a youth service or similar gathering.
not the deepest piece of theology, but just about the most important
question that any of us can face during our lifetime.
(Joshua 24, v15)
||A word about copyright.
are welcome to use this material as you wish for any non-profit
purpose, and especially in the service of Jesus Christ. Please be sure to
acknowledge the source by means of a reference to this website. If you
happen to make a recording of any of these songs (and especially if you
can make a better job of it than me) I would be delighted to hear the
result. Although I
retain the author's rights in respect of any commercial sales (should
that ever happen), most of
all I would like to think that something here might be a
blessing to somebody else, and I would welcome any feedback via the Contact page of this website.