Music makes connections in the brain unlike any other medium. Tunes aid in the storage and retrieval of content, -and lyrics are great discussion starters. And by turning the songs into music videos, we've been able to present some stimulating and memorable visual messages as well.
Abraham and Sarah CD features four songs -each written for a particular learning area and subject in the CD. In most cases, the lyrics/verses intentionally "compact" a large concept down to a few pithy and memorable words. Verse 2 in I Heard a Voice Today, is a good example of this compacting: "there is a land I know, where the nations come and go. I'll plant your people there, to show the world I care". In one sentence we've taught, Why God wants Abraham to go to Canaan, What he's going to do there, and What Abraham and his descendants mission is going to be. Dissecting song lyrics has a long history of success in teaching, thus, you're going to want to watch the music videos with your students, stop and discuss them. In the case of "O Father Abraham" we've included the lyrics interactive on the page.
Technical Note: If you want to JUST use the music apart from the program itself, explore the CDs files and open the videos.mpg with your computer's Quicktime Player. This will give you a set of play controls << >>
I Heard a Voice
v 3 Nothing expedient, A Call for obedience, Nothing expedient, A Call for Obedience
This is the song heard at the opening of the program right after the kids' opening narration. I Heard a Voice Today imagines Abraham's recollection of hearing God's voice for the first time while living in Haran. The Call is found in Genesis 15 which is dealt with in the COVENANT section of the CD. The style of guitar in this song is reminiscent of a traveling beat. The song flavor is U2.
In the second verse we introduce the idea that God called Abraham and Sarah to a strategically located land from which to spread his message.
In the third verse --the repeating refrain sets the tone for the entire story of The Call and Covenant ---it won't be anything quick or easy. The rhyme is intentional: God's call doesn't promise you a rose garden.
You might ask your older students what the word "expedient" means and what the singer meant by saying "nothing expedient." This would be a good question to put on a handout too.
From your womb, there's a nation to begotten
the word of hope from your family will arise
Sarah, did you think that God forgotten?
Sarah's Song picks up on the Hebrew meaning of Isaac's name, "laughter," and stretches the concept to a "laughter heard round the world." Sarah's happiness and giddy hope is ours too. The angels know that from this family will arise the one who wipes away tears -Jesus Christ. The song's beat is meant to parallel "I Heard a Voice Today" --Abraham's Call. For style we picked a late 1970's Styx flavor.
This section of the CD has some built-in reflection content. You can also print the lyrics from the program --and they come with comments.
Why did God make her wait? Click the links in Sarah's section of the CD to hear her account of the encounter with angelic visitors.
What does God hope to discover by making us wait for his promises to be fulfilled?
What is the "word of hope" ?
I know what they're saying about me, throwin' it all away
Temporary form of insane fanat-asy, he'll come 'round some day
Temporary form of insane fanat-asy, ain't no place or way I'd rather be,
How 'bout you, ...how 'bout you, ...how 'bout you?
The interactive section associated with this song is extensive.
I actually wrote this song many years ago. It was based on a tune I used to play with a band connected with our youth group. We were doing different styles and this one was a mid-90's Clash/punk style. The lyrics are based on some conversations and comments I had with friends during my college years as I was trying on Christianity and thoughts of becoming a minister. It was good discussion among our musicians. Abraham must have heard the same taunts and derision when he told others that he too heard the voice of God calling him to a new place. Many young people today experience the same when they outwardly express their faith. The Insane Fanatasy section in the CD calls them to consider this, and leave their comments behind for other users of the CD to read.
Throughout history, some pretty cool people of faith have been called insane "fanatics." The video with this song shows your students some of them, and puts your students in that picture, and asks "how 'bout you?"
Can you and your students identify all the images? They are: Moses, Jesus, Abraham/Isaac, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Joan of Arc. Joan heard voices too!
O Father Abraham
O Father Abraham -what would you have done
O Father Abraham -would you've killed your son
O Father Abraham - what did Sarah say
About her favorite son - on that faithful day
O Father Abraham - see this sacrifice
Reveals the heart of God - it foretells the Christ
O Father Abraham ...
There's an entire "interactive reflection section" in the CD connected with this song and animation. Lots of questions to ponder.
When I first set out to design this CD, I didn't know that the Near-Sacrifice would feature so prominently in the story or CD. But it became clear that God's request for Abraham's son was the ultimate test and thus would be the ultimate center of the CD. It can't be ignored. But we wondered how to do this story knowing young children would be part of our audience. We decided that our questions were probably those of Abraham, Isaac, and Sarah as well.
The idea of putting young people in the megaliths surrounding the altar came after I read an article in Biblical Archaeological Review magazine about the stone altars found in Canaan in ancient pre-Israelite times. Our visual design was informed by that article, as was the idea of the stones as "witnesses." Who better to witness this story that students like yours.
We also knew the part of the story Abraham never knew --that Jesus would pass through this same test and become the lamb. Hence the visual and lyrical connection between the two. You should ask you students if they understand the "there was no "literal cross-shaped altar" in the actual Bible story. It is a symbolic addition. Why is it there?"
The kids song heard wafting in the black opening screen of "O Father Abraham" are an intentional nod to that classic children's Sunday School tune. The style of the song is something in the area of U2.
FYI... That's country recording artist and songwriter Eric Dove singing the vocals to O Father Abraham. Eric grew up in Central Ohio, and is a friend of SoundWrangler recording studios where we create and record all our music and voices. www.ericdove.com
We call each of these songs "songlets" because they were specifically designed to fit in the CD, tell their story through lyrics and be done. No five minute ballads allowed. One of the things you'll notice is that the lyrics are actually intelligible. That's because they were mixed to stand out in the classroom.
I can take credit only for the music and lyrics. All the music was arranged and performed by my brother Colin MacQueen, a professional musician and records for SoundWrangler (his own company). Both the music and vocals were recorded straight into a computer and mixed for typical computer speakers, and good ones too. Hope you have good speakers with a sub-woofer.
The videos which accompany each song.were created by Bill Rhoades (RhoadeWarrior 3-D) and Eric Farnbauch (Upbeat Recordings) based on the songs and my really pathetic storyboards. The Sacrifice video alone took about 100 hours to composite and render in the computer. The camera move from side to top view took at least 20 of those hours. It's tricky high tech business. I'm particularly grateful to these two guys for the extra time they took to make this video a true centerpiece worthy of an amazing story.
<>< Neil MacQueen, Sunday Software
Music and lyrics copyright 2002, Neil MacQueen. Permission granted for local church use only.