The Peaceable Kingdom

Lest you think songwriting is a simple, linear process…

This song started its life a few years ago at the Christmas songwriting retreat that produced Refugee King, Jesus Be Enough, and Tiny King. The page of sketches had “Peaceful Revolution” scribbled at the top, a phrase I still like. It remained in my ideas folder until this week when I realized it would fit perfectly in Fuller Ave’s virtual Lessons & Carols service.

“The Peaceable Kingdom,” like the Edward Hicks painting from which I borrowed the song’s title, is a rendering of the famous Isaiah 11:1-9 passage that describes predator and prey playing together, led by a little child. At Christmas, we understand this Child to be Christ, the little child who came into the world to usher in an age of peace. Of course, a quick look around shows that this peace is not yet fully consummated. Indeed, a second theme of Advent is preparing ourselves for the triumphant return of Christ, when the world will truly reflect Isaiah’s vision.

I hear this song as a diminutive sibling to “Peace in the Valley,” a song which I adore and have used with Isaiah 11:1-9 in Lessons & Carols past.

1. From a stump in the forest,
there rises a life-giving shoot
that reaches to heaven–
a branch grown from Jesse’s deep root.

For God’s Spirit will fill him:
the Spirit of wisdom and word,
the Spirit of knowledge and power,
and delight in the fear of the Lord.

2. This One will bring justice
flowing deeper than sound or than sight.
The wicked and righteous,
laid bare before his holy eyes.

On that day earth will tremble
rich and poor will be stunned as they hear
the Word of God banish all malice
as the Kingdom of Heaven draws near.

For the lion will lay with the lamb
and the serpent will surrender its fangs,
and a child will lead all his people by the hand.
There will finally be peace in this land.
O Lord, let this Kingdom begin.

3. O Lord, we are waiting
for the day that this word is fulfilled.
We catch glimpses of glory
but sadness and sin haunts us, still.

Break your light in our darkness
Let your love cast out all fear.
O Lord, come quickly, we’re waiting
until your Kingdom is here.

For the lion will lay with the lamb
and the serpent will surrender its fangs,
and a child will lead all his people by the hand.
There will finally be peace in this land.
O Lord, let this Kingdom begin.

When the Lion of Judah comes again,
the Lamb of God will take away the world’s sin,
and the serpent will surrender to God’s holy reign.
O Lord, let this Kingdom begin.
Come, quickly Lord, amen.

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