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about

There is a reason West Texas is so heavily Christian; these lands and their curses are not that different from those of the ancient Jews of Palestine. Recurrent drought, dust storms, and increasingly, a desert -like terrain. This song is a plea, an anxious environmental lament with a religious cast. I had just seen a performance of Handel’s Messiah, in which I noticed a constant interplay among the text and songs between torment and redemption. This after all, is the Biblical story many times over; the people are continually either on the in or the outs with God. They always squander good fortune, anger God, and turn it to bad fortune.

We are not really that different, creating our “false gods” out of microchips, steel, copper—all forged indirectly through the energy of oil. Oil is just sequestered energy borrowed from millions of years of past life and death.

Climate change (i.e. global warming) is not a popular idea in West Texas. Maybe the prophets have been going at it all wrong, speaking in a scientific vernacular that does not resonate in the flat windswept plains. This is my attempt at a translation from the science I don’t understand to an age-old story I can’t quite get myself to believe—even as I keep coming back to it.

lyrics

Comfort ye, comfort ye
Comfort ye, my people
Comfort ye, comfort ye
Saith your God.

The voice of him that crieth
In the hot unyielding sun.
Thou shalt his eyes to shade.
The trembles of he who shakes
in the dry desert wind
Thou shalt his anguish drive away.

And the glory of
And the glory of
And the glory of
The Lord

Comfort ye, comfort ye
Comfort we your people
Comfort me, comfort me
I will plea to God.

Searing rays shall cover
the earth and all its people
and we like sheep have gone astray.
But surely he hath born our grief
and tread the thorns before us.
His gentle path shall be our way.

I know my redeemer liveth,
And he shall stand with me.
Though hornets pierce my body.
His spirit my flesh to ease.
Oh death I feel thy sting
And the grave thy victory
Oh sin I know the cost of your bargain.
Oh time I felt immortal
But that could never be.
Until I know his anguish and his pain.

credits

released March 20, 2014
Ken guitar and vocal.
Backing vocals: Kristen Moore (a wonderful colleague, also from the Texas Tech English Department).

tags

tags: folk Lubbock

license

all rights reserved

about

Ken Baake Lubbock, Texas

Ken was born in Baltimore in 1955. He grew up hearing everyone from Johnny Mercer and Ray Charles to the Beatles on the family hi-fi, with a usual Saturday encore of Wagner's operas. Ken has degrees in English and economics and a background in journalism. He is currently an associate professor of English at Texas Tech, teaching classes in rhetoric. ... more

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