At this year’s Calvin Worship Symposium, I’m planning music for a service that uses the story of Cain and Abel as the sermon scripture. As you can imagine there are a TON of congregational songs about that one…
Neal Plantinga is preaching, and described his sermon as exploring the mark of Cain as punishment and protection. Cain’s “mark of grace” is a foreshadowing of Christ on the cross–the ultimate punishment that leads to the greatest blessing. Though I found a few hymns that got in the ballpark of the sermon theme (“God of Grace and God of Glory” and “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”), I decided I’d give a go at writing one especially for the occasion.
The result is the appropriately titled “A Mark of Grace.” Check out the PDF score and Finalified MP3. This is still a working draft, but I decided to post it to my music blog so I wouldn’t ruin my Christmas thinking about it. This has been one of the more difficult things I’ve written in a while. In the first draft, the lyrics got the point across, but were too informational. That is, I fit in all the right words, but singing a list of characters from Genesis is not particularly inspirational. Plus, my verses were too long, so it felt tiresome.* In my second draft, I struck upon the idea of taking the original 16 line verses and trimming them to 8 lines of verse and 4 lines of pre-chorus. The pre-chorus provided a musical ramp between the verse and chorus that felt just right. But still, the rhyme scheme was so tight and the theological ideas so expansive that I had very little wiggle room with the lyrics. By draft #3 (this one) I felt like things had started to settle in lyrically and musically, though I’m thinking seriously of changing to 4/4 time throughout the whole song.
I think it’s best that I sit on it for a few days to see how it feels with a little distance. Feel free to give me feedback.
* But I kind of liked this section of the first draft:
Like Adam in the garden
Like Eve eating the fruit
Our family tree grows crooked
Its poisoned at the root.