Friday, July 04, 2014

Guest post by Don Berg: Evolution of Bruce Cockburn lyrics Part 7: In The Falling Dark

by Don Berg:

In The Falling Dark (1976)

As I continue to share my take on Bruce Cockburn’s evolving spirituality displayed throughout his body of work, we come to three albums that I think show Bruce’s maturing evangelical Christianity. Bruce has said that “Lord of the Starfields” was his attempt at writing a hymn. Alas Cockburn is a singer/songwriter and his songs tend to be too personal for corporate worship. Once again his spirituality is rooted in images of nature, but the creator is the object of the praise and source of our inner flame.

Lord of the starfields
Ancient of Days
Universe Maker
Here's a song in your praise

Wings of the storm cloud
Beginning and end
You make my heart leap
Like a banner in the wind

O love that fires the sun
Keep me burning.
Lord of the starfields
Sower of life,
Heaven and earth are
Full of your light

Voice of the nova
Smile of the dew
All of our yearning
Only comes home to you

O love that fires the sun
Keep me burning

The title track documents through Cockburn’s evocative lyrics and music the imagery coming to him one dusk. As so often happens it gets him thinking about other things. In this case grace:

In the Falling Dark

Light pours from a million radiant lives
Off of kids and dogs and the hard-shelled husbands and wives
All that glory shining around and we're all caught taking a dive
And all the beasts of the hills around shout, "such a waste!
Don't you know that from the first to the last we're all one in the gift of grace!"


Similarly in “Working out on Gavin’s Woodpile” the singer describes stacking logs on a family farm. As he works his mind wanders. This time describes several vignettes of memory. He ponders and is enraged by the injustice of the prison system, then the poisoning of native peoples through environmental toxins. He looks up and sees the beauty of the world around him and his puzzlement leads him to sing:
“And I'm left to conclude there's no human answer near...”
and once again the beauty of nature leads him to:

Gavin’s Woodpile
But there's a narrow path to a life to come
That explodes into sight with the power of the sun

A mist rises as the sun goes down
And the light that's left forms a kind of crown
The earth is bread, the sun is wine
It's a sign of a hope that's ours for all time.

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