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A Wren in the Hand is Worth Two… October 3, 2012

Posted by markgeil in Music.
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Two extraordinary songs, one simple bird:

“And the wrens have returned and they’re nesting
In the hollow of that oak where his heart once had been
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing for being born again”

The Color Green, Rich Mullins, A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band

 

“This is the year when laughter douses charred and burnt-out dreams
This is the year when wrens return to nest in storm-blown trees
Is this the year of relocation from boughs of old despair?
This is the year to perch on hope’s repair”

The New Year, Eric Peters, Birds of Relocation

 

The former is the first song of the Liturgy section of what many consider Mullins’ finest album. Mullins lists 2 Chronicles 6:18 as scripture to accompany the song: “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

The latter is the decisive arrival of hope and light in Peters’ brilliant account of despair and recovery. It praises a God who makes all things new, even things that seem beyond repair.

I assumed that Mullins’ wrens inspired Peters’, so I asked him. As it turns out, Peters did not (consciously, at least) recall The Color Green while writing The New Year. He had his own reasons for his wrens:

“It’s one syllable.” That was his first answer. He has a point. “This is the year when cardinals return to nest in storm-blown trees” doesn’t work at all.

But then he thought for a moment and added this:

“Also, I really like their song.”

The song of the wren is chirpy, staccato happiness. It makes the heart a little lighter. I’m glad it’s sung by a monosyllabic bird.

I read once that there are times when birds sing just because they want to. They have mating calls and warning calls and such, but there are also times when, apparently, birds sing for no apparent reason. Biologists might not understand why, but I do. If the rocks can cry out in praise, then surely the wren can sing a happy song for the Maker of Song.

I pray that I will never fail to marvel at the swaying arms of the oak, or the palette of colors with which God painted the sky and the fields, or the happy, hopeful song of the wren.

And when I need it, it’s good to know that the wrens have returned, and they’re nesting.

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