Attentive to the rhythms
Colin Pye channels his 80s synth rock background to introduce a new song that explores the presidential theme of his friend and colleague Geoff Colmer
I wanted to be a rock star. It was the early eighties, and as part of a mainly Bible college group of friends we hit the London club and pub scene with our synth rock hoping for mega success. It never came, although I have lived off the stories ever since. A couple of band members went on to be highly successful, but for me realism and a lack of vocal technique put paid to the dream.
But the music has never left me, and over the years it has continued to play a significant part in my ministry, in worship, mission events, kids songs 'Wide and long and high and deep' etc. And now at a more ‘mature’ age I still take great pleasure in writing and producing songs, even when in truth relatively few will ever hear them, sometimes only God and my wife...
This preamble brings me to a song that I have just written - let me tell you about it.
Entitled Attentive to the rhythms it has of course been inspired by my friend and colleague Geoff Colmer’s Presidential theme ‘attentive to rhythms of grace’. As you know Geoff has had a torrid year and yet wonderfully and incredibly he is now setting out on the Presidential adventure determined to make an impact with a message about the importance of being attentive to the often quiet and gentle rhythms of God’s grace. The song is in many ways a homage to Geoff’s message and example among us.
Song writing for me is sometimes how ideas crystalise, how the breath of God feeds my soul, and if it doesn’t sound too grand, how the divine Spirit works in me. It is as if ideas flutter into life and begin to take shape not just in words, but in the flow of the creative process that eventually ends up being a song. Sometimes this takes a long time, and just occasionally it simply flows, seemingly coming as a gift.
And thus it was probably three months ago, as Geoff was beginning his stem cell transplant treatment, that I was strumming away on my guitar and I began to play with the words ‘attentive to rhythms of grace’ and the song just flowed from there. Kingfishers (what else?), sea shore, the dawn chorus, an unexpected relationship, all became lyrical scenes where I imagined God’s presence being experienced if we would but ‘notice’. Within two or three hours I had taken those formative ideas and shaped them into the outline of the song they have gone on to become.
So a natural question would be, “What’s an old boy like you doing spending precious time writing and producing 80s influenced pop/rock? – shouldn’t you have gotten that out of your system by now?” I do sometimes think that. And then it occurs to me that for me THIS IS A ‘THIN PLACE’ (as Celtic Christians would say), and surely God is in this place!
Strangely it is one practice where I am indeed attentive to rhythms of grace. It reminds me of that scene from the film Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddell is trying to justify running rather than immediately pursuing a missionary calling to China. He says, 'I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.'
I can only say something similar about creating music – imperfect as it is – when the music flows, I feel his pleasure.
Colin Pye is a Regional Minister in the Central Baptist Association. You can listen to his song Attentive to the rhythms on Youtube here.
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