Thursday, July 03, 2014

Guest post by Don Berg: Evolution of Bruce Cockburn lyrics part 5: Salt, Sun and Time

by Don Berg:

Salt, Sun and Time (1974)
In his book “Kicking at the Darkness” Brian J. Walsh makes a connection between “Christmas Song,” from Salt, Sun and Time, and “Spring Song,” from Bruce’s first LP. Bruce’s spirituality of that time is grounded in the cycles of nature. The renewal of Spring is a yearly cycle of death and rebirth.

Spring Song (1970)
Till we come
Till we come again
To recognize renewal
At the heart
At the heart of us

Then by 1974 Bruce has experienced the perfect renewal. The perfect dancers in Plato’s cave that we see only as shadows on a wall. The writer of Hebrew’s perfect high priest, who breaks into time to make the perfect sacrifice that does away with the imperfect copies. Aslan comes and breaks the never-ending winter. (Is this the lion rampant on a green field from “God Bless the Children?) Christmas comes and the frozen world thaws.

Christmas Song (1974) LINK to play

Like the snow on the stark spruce limb
Coated with ice, then stripped by wind
We melt away and return again
Stronger for the tempering flame
Stronger for the Saviour's name.

The cycle of the seasons, becomes a river of time. Again Christmas Song:
The stream is a motionless moment
Salmon in the sea swims deep
Pregnant with force as a prayer is
Spring in the hard earth sleeps

Redemption breaks into the stream of life as Bruce would later sing in “The Cry of a Tiny Babe” and shown on the cover of the album Circles in the Stream:

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

Finally I want to share the hymn of exaltation for this renewal in Bruce’s life recorded on Salt, Sun and Time:

All the Diamonds In the World (1974)
All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea

I ran aground in a harbour town
Lost the taste for being free
Thank God He sent some gull-chased ship
To carry me to sea

Two thousand years and half a world away
Dying trees still grow greener when you pray

Silver scales flash bright and fade
In reeds along the shore
Like a pearl in sea of liquid jade
His ship comes shining

Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
His ship comes shining.

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