To Read: Click on song title to watch a video
[Jesus] ‘Where are they now has no one condemned you?
[The Woman] ‘No one sir’
[Jesus] ‘Well nor do I condemn you, you may go but do not sin again’
Where are you going? Where are you going?
Can you take me with you?
For my hand is cold and needs warmth
Where are you going? Far beyond where the horizon lies
Where the horizon lies and the land sinks into mellow blueness
Oh please, take me with you. Let me skip the road with you
I can dare myself. I can dare myself
I’ll put a pebble in my shoe and watch me walk (watch me walk)
I can walk. I can walk!
I shall call the pebble Dare. I shall call the pebble Dare
We will walk, we will talk together. We will talk
About walking Dare shall be carried
And when we both have had enough
I will take him from my shoe, singing
“Meet your new road!”
Then I’ll take your hand, finally glad
That I am here by your side (By my side)
[Judas (Matt. 26:14-16)] [spoken]
Then the man they called Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests, and said “What will you give me to betray Him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment, he began to look out for an opportunity to betray Him.
From the Scriptures:
Naomi said, said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ 16 But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die – there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!’
‘Godspell’ was the very first show I went to see in the West End. It was the original production at Wyndham’s Theatre with David Essex playing the role of Jesus. A marvellous adventure – though to be honest any trip away from Boarding School was marvellous – the School chaplain arranged for a group of servers and sacristans, who had been getting a ‘bit of stick’ for attending extra chapel, out as a reward and an encouragement.
For me the words of the Gospel literally jumped off the stage and grabbed my heart. The songs from the show have been one of my ‘go to’ places when I need to find again the roots of faith – the other place I go to is Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Mass’ but that story must wait for another time.
The song ‘By my Side’ is my favourite. It breaks with the rest of the libretto as the rest of the story follows, more or less, the Gospel of Matthew, but this story is from John 8.1-11 suddenly appears. A pesky piece of Scripture (even left out by some translations) it doesn’t fit in with any of the gospel narratives but it has the fingerprints of Jesus all over it. For me it is the words spoken either side of the song by Jesus and Judas that speak loudest as they show the depth of love and the cost of love.
I continually ask myself, ‘Dare I walk this path with our Beloved?’ This One who looks on the unlovely me with love? How can I walk next to and hold the hand of the One who finds me broken and deserving condemnation yet says, ‘Well nor do I condemn you, you may go but do not sin again’.
The answer is, even if sometimes haltingly, reluctantly and in fear of what others will say, always and forever ‘Yes!’ As I explored earlier when looking at the song ‘Secret Love’ there is no other way to live, even if it means I limp because I have ‘a pebble in my shoe’.
How can I leave Him to walk this path of pain and self-emptying by Himself?
How can I give up on the One who refuses to give up on me?
How can I not limp and skip along the road following the One who is Way, Truth, and Life?
I know this truth, even if I fall, even if I fail, even if I stop, even if I follow a different path, He will still love me and pour His life out to show that love to me. I know when I’m beat! With Maria in West Side Story, when confronted by Anita I surrender myself and say I Have a Love
I have a love, and it’s all that I have
Right or wrong, what else can I do?
I love him; I’m his
And everything he is
I am, too
I have a love, and it’s all that I need
Right or wrong, and he needs me, too
I love him, we’re one;
There’s nothing to be done
Not a thing I can do
But hold him, hold him forever
Be with him now, tomorrow
And all of my life!
As Holy Week continues to tell the story of our Beloved’s love for us dare to limp and skip along the road with Him.
O Lord Jesus,
please abide with me.
Dispel my deep loneliness!
No one can be my companion for ever,
but you are the Lord who is everywhere, present at all times.
Only you are my dear companion and saviour.
In the long dark night,
along the silent shadowy pathways,
I beg you to grasp my hand.
When others have forgotten me,
please remember me in eternity!
In the name of Jesus.
Dr Andrew Song, China
(a theologian who spent many years in prison)
1) Ask God who amongst your friends is ‘limping’ a little in their journey homeward, and offer them a helping hand.
2) Dare to do something different for Jesus.
Encore: Click on song title to watch a video
If I learnt one life-long lesson from Godspell it was to try to say ‘thank you’ for the everyday miracles provided by Mother Earth. All Good Gifts is the song I play when I am feeling particularly morose and ungrateful.
Prayers are from ‘Prayers Encircling the World’ and are copyright © SPCK: 1998.
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘A Song for Lent – 40 Days in the West End’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2018