Terms of Peace

I believe there is an unoccupied space at the intersection of Christian music, creative writing, and biblical theology. I’d like to see more efforts by poets & musicians to create songs that depict biblical truth in new and interesting ways.

As an example, I present my own homemade song “Terms of Peace,” based on an extension of the familiar (but very brief) parable:

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”

Luke 14:31-32

A demo of the music, and a video, are presented at the link below. I am not a performer. I’d love to hear this song performed with a real vocalist (this is possibly the worst vocal I ever recorded, trying to keep quiet enough not to disturb others in the house at the time), a real lead guitarist, and an actual human drummer. Sadly, I think it’s probably impossible for most songwriters, especially Christian songwriters, to publicize their work if they lack performance skills. There really is no necessary link between compositional ability and performance ability.

The song begins with a “dream” sequence of lush chord changes, depicting the king asleep in the royal chambers. As a churchbell chimes the morning hour, an advisor enters the chambers with some alarming news. He gives his assessment of the situation, recommending surrender instead of a bloody war. A colleague arrives, likewise offering advice, but of the opposite sort: he advises the king to stand and fight to the end.

At this point, the king has heard enough and dismisses them. He must make this decision alone, and he understands the horrible consequences, no matter which choice he makes: “a dead man or a subject I’ll be.” The song ends without a decision, signifying the import of the parable: every human, faced with the impending, unavoidable appointment with God’s judgment, must decide whether to stand and fight like a proud human, or to surrender.


ADVISOR #1

Good morning, king!

How I wish I had some happy news to bring

It’s an army, I’m afraid

And they’re coming to invade our land.

 

I’m sorry, sire!

I’m afraid the situation is rather dire

We have but ten thousand men

They have double that again

Your decision we have come to inquire.

 

It’s doomed to fail;

Against such odds as these we cannot prevail!

We must go, lay down our arms,

And accept whatever terms they give.

 

ADVISOR #2

Not so, my lord!

We shall put their twenty thousand to the sword!

Let us make our final stand

For our people and our land!

Ten thousand brave men wait on your word.

 

KING

Leave me alone!

This decision is my own!

I want no voice in my ear to persuade me!

Steadfast reason must be my guide,

All of you remaining outside

I must decide!

 

And now it’s clear:

Every second brings it more and more near

For it seems I must decide

Between prudence and mere pride, I fear.

 

Oh, pity me!

There are two unhappy futures I see:

Either way I’ll be cast down,

Relinquishing this crown,

A dead man or a subject I’ll be.

 

All alone!

This decision is my own!

I have no one I can trust to advise me!

No one knows the path that I tread

Heavy lies the crown on my head —

Heavy as lead!


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